We’ve talked at length about the evolution of the term “finance transformation,” as the past decade has shown considerable shifts from large-scale initiatives to more strategic efforts. With 2015 already underway, what’s next for transformation?

According to a study conducted last year by MorganFranklin Consulting and FierceCFO, finance transformation makes most organizations think of strategic functional improvement. But operational process improvement and technology implementations or upgrades are not far behind. Planning, budgeting, and forecasting have continued to dominate companies’ transformation goals—a sign that strategic reporting and data management are vital to growth. Efficient processes and error-free data are musts in today’s increasingly stringent regulatory environment, especially as companies strive to fulfill the familiar mantra of “do more with less.”

So where are companies headed in the world of finance transformation? And what is the primary transformation focus for 2015? We find that many companies focus on the aspects of analytics and reporting first and foremost. They’re drawn in by the promise of a real-time dashboard and ad hoc modeling, but many things need to happen to harness that type of capability. Often decision makers are focused on the end game and may not realize that numerous incremental changes must take place before reaching that goal, specifically the big three components of:

  1. Data management
  2. Process realignment
  3. Technology implementation

By focusing on these three components and making incremental changes to better understand data, organizations can improve processes to capture the necessary data, increase reliability, and leverage systems and tools where appropriate to unleash the power of data. In turn, this will help organizations better position themselves to transform data into meaningful information and produce insights into reporting.

How did companies answer the question What Does Finance Transformation Mean to You? Download the full survey results here.