Gone are the days where the manufacturing chief financial officer (CFO) was predominantly responsible for the back-office or accounting function.
By Jaco Maritz, chief operating officer at Syspro
In today’s dynamic world, the CFO is a strategic navigator – responsible for steering the business through unchartered waters and mapping a direction for the future. A big part of this role is the enablement of digital delivery models.
According to the 2021 Syspro CFO 4.0 survey, 57% of manufacturing CFOs agree that proficiency and knowledge to create an effective plan to operationalise and transition the business into a digitalised and automated manufacturer is the most critical factor globally. The CFO 4.0 will need to understand emerging technologies and the impact that digital transformation will have on the business.
The role of the CFO 4.0 is also not only about supporting the business to make the right technology investments. The CFO plays a critical part in building measurable short-term and long-term plans that address the ongoing supply chain disruptions impacting efficiencies and revenue growth.
Here enterprise resource planning (ERP) is often regarded the digital backbone in that journey. As a single source of data, ERP provides full visibility into the full operations of the business.
With data insights, the CFO can plan ahead and make the right investments for the greater good of the business.
ERP also allows the CFO to measure the impact of those plans to determine what is working, and what is not working and make the necessary adjustments. Here is how the CFO can garner ROI from their ERP system.
Enabling agile sourcing and procurement
The manufacturing CFO has the difficult job of balancing expenditure with the operational need for agile and responsive sourcing and procurement.
With ongoing supply chain disruptions, many businesses have struggled to collaborate with their supplier base in real-time and many were left with no choice but to revisit strategies on the sourcing of raw materials, sub-assemblies and finished products.
On top of that, many manufacturing businesses have still relied on manual, paper-based systems to complete month-end tasks, which further impacts on sourcing and procurement processes.
Southern African Shipyards, a Syspro customer, is Africa’s leading commercial and naval shipbuilding and ship repair company, providing cost-effective services and solutions to the marine industry worldwide.
Previously, the business used standalone accounting, planning and reporting software packages which were unable to communicate with each other. Data had to be merged in Excel and other reporting software.
The company has since shifted from a 100% manual operation to a fully-integrated ERP solution where manual intervention accounts for only about 5% of the processes.
The result is significant cost savings, far tighter controls and substantial improvements in both productivity and efficiency. SA Shipyards anticipates savings of R23-million a year due to improved purchase controls.
ERP can also assist with improved sourcing and procurement by fostering improved supplier collaboration, ensuring demand accuracy and even the ability to manage global pricing requirements, while minimising the costs and effort associated with the administration of trade promotions and deductions.
ERP also mitigates purchasing risks, improves governance and maintains negotiated agreements – while enabling the purchase of products and services at the best value-to-price ratio.
Measuring the success of diversification of business models
The pandemic pressured businesses into thinking ‘out of the box’ to thrive. According to the Syspro CFO 4.0 study, moving forward, 65% of businesses will look at diversifying businesses to drive profit and improved revenues. Twenty-nine percent of businesses stated that they plan to innovate with a new product line and 39% plan to invest in e-commerce as a new route to market.
While these strategies sound good on paper, the CFO expects to see the ROI from such costly investments. There is no guarantee that introducing a new product to the market or investing in a new e-commerce platform will bring in tangible ROI.
Here ERP can help by providing measurable data around areas such as material requirements planning to purchase orders, inventory management, inventory control and lot serial tracking. It can also provide further success factors such as the ability to communicate effectively with staff and allocate accountability.
A good example of this in action could be seen with Syspro customer, Ventec Life Systems. Ventec provides respiratory care to improve patient outcomes and reduce caregiver challenges in the hospital and home.
Ventec’s leading product, VOCSN, seamlessly integrates five separate devices including a ventilator, oxygen concentrator, cough assist, suction, and nebulizer into one unified respiratory system.
In Spring 2020, the US government partnered with Ventec, and collaborated with a large manufacturer to complete an order for 30,000 ventilators. This required the company to dramatically increase its production volumes and change business processes to achieve the necessary flexibility and customization.
Utilising Syspro’s technology platform, which provides extensibility to the core ERP, Ventec was able to streamline shop floor operations with a set of customized panes for Job Processing. ROI was clearly measurable, with the rate of manufacturing increasing by 80 times between May and August 2020.
The full federal order of 30 000 ventilators was completed in just 154 days, with one unit completed about every seven minutes.
Besides having clear objectives at the start of a pivot, the CFO should also have a clear understanding of the business case and focus efforts in the areas of the business with the greatest pain points to manage spend and ultimately generate revenue.
Proactively managing business risks
When asked about top business risks for 2022, unsurprisingly, 40% of the CFOs within the SYSPRO study highlighted the management of rising inventory costs as a top concern, while 35% pointed to the management of local and global supply chains.
As CFOs take up more strategic roles within the business, the reduction of these risks is key, along with the critical need to budget for capital expenditure and to forecast the requisite cash requirements.
Ultimately, ERP is an essential tool as the manufacturing CFO role makes a shift. As the saying goes, the whole is greater than the sum if its parts, and ERP can at least give the CFO a heads-up around what to plan for and how to pivot in a time of continued volatility.