A new IMA® (Institute of Management Accountants) report, Building Financial Reporting Resilience through Collaborative Cloud-Based Solutions, describes how short-term adaptions rooted in the COVID-19 pandemic can accelerate financial transformation with respect to corporate reporting. The report concludes that although new time-saving cloud-based financial reporting platforms were a relatively low priority for organizations pre-pandemic, interest in agility and the potential continuation of remote working—including the control and oversight process—are bringing about renewed consideration of these systems.

Approximately 200 financial reporting professionals were surveyed on their appetite for more sophisticated technology-based solutions to speed up the tedious final steps of financial reporting. 

The survey found that despite confidence in their ability to get their jobs done with current technologies, some financial reporting professionals are finding that the COVID-19 crisis is prompting them to rethink their technology needs.

“Corporate finance and accounting teams continue to compete with other departments for new technology systems,” said Shari Littan, CPA, IMA director of corporate reporting research and policy and coauthor of the report. “Companies can benefit, however, by considering technology for the post-pandemic world. Investment can free up experienced and talented members of financial reporting teams, who can apply themselves to more value-added tasks.”

Other key findings of the report include:

  • Respondents indicated that before the pandemic, their respective corporate organizations placed a fairly low priority on technology-based financial reporting solutions. Two-thirds indicated they were behind other internal teams in the competition for resources.
  • Approximately 30% expressed interest in a technology-based solution for various activities around the documenting of management review processes and judgment areas. 
  • About 1 in 5 respondents have changed their prioritization or budgets for technology-based corporate reporting solutions for 2021 and into the post-pandemic period.
  • Respondents prefer new solutions for two areas: (1) control ownership and succession; and (2) assessing revenue expectations. Respondents from private companies expressed more interest in solutions around accounting processes that require estimates and sorting data.

“Although many companies use sophisticated systems for tracking voluminous, repetitive transactions, and accumulating data from various systems and spreadsheets, bringing this data together and producing an actual report is still overly dependent on cut and paste data wrangling on spreadsheets,” said Conor O’Kelly, FCA, senior director of statutory reporting at Workiva and coauthor of the report. “This is unnecessary when the right solutions are available to simplify the process.”

Added O’Kelly, “We’ve seen a discernible move by corporate finance teams to accelerate corporate governance and financial reporting processes to cloud-based collaboration platforms over the last 12 months in order to simplify complex work.”

To read the full report, visit the IMA website.