Ten Minutes Talking Tech with a CFO!

Maximising Tech’s Potential: Insights from Andrew Yee, Group CFO, Walkinshaw Group

As finance leaders look to accelerate their digital transformation, overhauling the technology ecosystem is often a critical first step. I recently spoke with Andrew Yee, Group CFO at Walkinshaw Group, to gain valuable insights into the company’s journey revamping its finance tech stack and the strategic approach they’ve taken to capitalise on the latest innovations transforming the finance function.

Recent Impactful Tech Advances & Adopting New Finance Tools

Yee highlighted several key trends upending traditional finance processes and operations. Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning are enabling real-time analysis of vast data sets to drive smarter, more accurate decision-making. At Walkinshaw, they have implemented Board as their new budgeting & forecasting tool and the FP&A team is using AI/predictive algorithms to help forecast financial trends.

Cloud technology is also pivotal, offering scalability, flexibility and advanced analytics tools. Walkinshaw is migrating their entire business ERP system to the cloud, allowing greater agility, seamless cross-company collaboration, robust data integration and accessibility backed by stringent security protocols.

The fintech revolution continues at pace as well. Yee explained, “We’ve implemented solutions like EFTSure for creditor checking and are evaluating other fintech players like FloQast, Blackline and Trintech to enhance our month-end reporting workflows and overall finance service delivery.”

Yee emphasises that as a CFO, “it is imperative to stay abreast of these developments and proactively leverage technology to drive efficiency, mitigate risks, and deliver value to stakeholders”, a statement which I, as a CFO also, could not agree with more.

New Solutions Driving Transformational Impact

Recently, Walkinshaw implemented an integrated business platform primarily focused on FP&A and commercial finance functions. The benefits are already being achieved:

  • Automated previously labour-intensive month-end tasks, accelerating reporting timelines
  • Enabled real-time, interactive and professional financial presentations to help with customer reviews of manufacturing and engineering projects.
  • Reduced human error risks through automated data filtering and distribution processes

“Another key advantage is improving communication of financial results, both internally and externally, by eliminating delays often spanning days,” Yee noted.

Outlook on AI, Blockchain & RPA

When assessing emerging technologies like AI, blockchain and robotic process automation (RPA), Yee sees tremendous opportunity for finance teams to elevate efficiency, accuracy and strategic decision support capabilities.

He cited RPA and AI enabling the automation of routine tasks like data entry, reconciliation and reporting – “freeing up finance teams to focus more on value-additive analysis and driving strategic initiatives.”

AI-powered predictive analytics and modelling can also drastically improve forecasting precision, while emerging technologies encourage rethinking traditional business models. “Finance leaders exploring digital transformation and fintech partnerships can position themselves and their organisations as true innovators,” Yee stated.

Advice for peers on implementing new technologies and process

To maximise technology’s impact, Yee stressed meticulous integration planning and alignment with strategic objectives as critical steps. He outlined several key best practices:

“When selecting new technologies, we carefully assess not just current requirements but future needs and best practices, leveraging cross-functional evaluation teams to ensure the solutions align with overarching company objectives.”

Yee emphasised the importance of early, collaborative planning. “It’s crucial to consider how the new technologies will integrate and interact with other business functions. Careful upfront planning with a cross-functional team helps ensure seamless alignment.”

He also advocated clearly defining scope and problem statements with implementation partners from the start. “We spend a lot of time upfront ensuring the partner fully understands the specific problems the software needs to solve. They then outline how their solution will work to address those problems, along with an agreed timeline.”

Constant communication is vital as well. “We institute weekly check-ins between the implementation and internal business teams, with clear milestones and deadlines. As go-live approaches, we increase the cadence of these meetings.”

Dedicating sufficient internal resources is key too. “Where possible, we set up a dedicated project team from the business side to manage the integration process, allowing other staff to focus on daily operations.”

The Path Forward Amidst Uncertainty

Yee’s outlook has shifted since the Melbourne CFO Symposium back in February 2024. At that event, he was one of the handful raising their hand to indicate a relatively bullish view on market conditions. However, the continued economic rollercoaster we’ve been on has him taking a more cautious stance at the moment, which proves how quickly perspectives can change when uncertainty refuses to let up.

Key CFO Takeaways >

Embrace Disruptive Technologies Leverage AI, machine learning, cloud, and fintech for efficiency, better decisions, and finance innovation.

Strategic Technology Assessments Evaluate current/future needs and best practices cross-functionally to ensure alignment.

Integration Best Practices Define scope clearly, communicate constantly, dedicate teams, revisit roadmaps.

Automate for Strategic Focus Use AI/RPA to automate routine tasks and enable higher-value work.

Drive Innovation Through Partnerships Explore fintech collaborations to position finance as an innovative leader.

Andrew’s Current CFO Tech Stack at Walkinshaw Group

Industry: Manufacturing & Engineering

Size: Mid market

General Ledger & ERP: INFOR

Reporting & Analysis: Power BI / Excel / Board

Budget/Forecasting: Board

Payroll: Preceda

HRIS: TBC – Assessing Employment Hero (under Evaluation)

CRM: SalesForce

Cyber: Eftsure

Month End: TBC – Assessing: FloQast, Blackline, Trintech