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Why HR and Finance belong at the heart of digital transformation (2/2)

Carolyn Horne Profile picture for user Carolyn Horne July 12, 2019
Success in digital transformation means bringing everyone on board - including HR and Finance. Workday's Carolyn Horne completes her 2-part guide

Business team in cupped hands with digital transformation context  © nopporn - shutterstock
(© nopporn - shutterstock)

Understanding what businesses need from a solution and being aware of the hurdles on the road forward to a successful digital transformation is not enough. Digital is disruptive and a change of culture is necessary to embrace it. Businesses need to know, not only what they need but have a clear picture of the goal they want to reach. This is the third and final step in ensuring digital transformation success. Some also see this as one of the biggest hurdles - knowing what you want. So, it is at this point you can turn to peers for inspiration, while still setting out your own goals.

We have looked in detail in part one of this article at the tools digital leaders need and what they look for in digital solutions. However, digital transformation is not limited to better infrastructure. The culture needs to change in order for the benefits of digital to permeate the whole company. Creating small but dedicated digital teams across all business divisions - including HR, Finance, IT and Sales - is key for all best-in-class organisations. These teams act as starting points and guides.

As new research by IDC and Workday reveals, there is a strong link between having a digitally-savvy, engaged and motivated team, and a successful digital transformation program. This survey of 400 digital leaders across Europe found that successful organizations are those with highly driven teams that are not sitting still. Nearly 9 in 10 (87%) of those with best-in-class HR and Finance systems display strong eagerness to implement new digital processes. Of course, this should also be matched with systems that that can answer this drive with the ability to be updated and changed as required.

Bring HR and Finance on board

Digital transformation won't drive itself, and won't be driven by one department alone, no matter how big its budget. Small, dedicated teams across all business divisions are what the doctor ordered, if some of your divisions are lagging behind the transformation process while the IT team is rowing for everyone at the front.

If transformation is to come from all fronts, and not an isolated department, vital business departments like HR and Finance need to have the right data and the capacity to support the initiative.

As 76% of best-in-class businesses rate the ability for HR and Finance to support new business as either very or extremely important, it is clear that those looking to grow must ensure that their HR and Finance team and systems are on board and up to speed. Many businesses that currently rate their HR and Finance systems as merely adequate will worry that, with the pace of change and development, these systems will very soon be overwhelmed by both day-to-day challenges and those from new business. Digital transformation plans also need to take this into account to ensure that all the systems and parts involved are ready for the challenges of today and tomorrow.

This is another important takeaway from the best-in-class businesses - digital capabilities can help generate new business, but if HR and Finance departments both lag behind, this influx of new revenue can be completely lost. Businesses in the digital age grow faster than ever, and HR and Finance need to be able to follow that pace. In fact, best-in-class organizations have invested in advanced Finance (88%) and HR (86%) systems to support their overall business growth plans. Why? Because these businesses have understood that the roles of HR and Finance are changing. To embrace that change, the best digital businesses invest in these two departments to lift them up to occupy more strategic roles within business operations.

It is equally important that Finance and HR teams are ready and willing to grasp the opportunity that is in front of them. As businesses digitally transform and look to combine the knowledge of different teams for a more strategic overview, HR and Finance need to be at the very front of this process and will need to upskill their own teams.

Onward to success

It is clear when looking both at the best-in-class digital transformation leaders and the overall digital transformation picture, that for organizations to successfully become fully digital - and reap the benefits that are offered - HR and Finance need to be central to this success.

The great advantage of digital transformation is that, if done correctly, it will bring together all the different parts of a business into one harmonious organisation - breaking down silos and creating efficiencies. To achieve this though, businesses need to take stock of where they are and really start planning for the future, with all departments working together, or risk being left behind.

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