5 opportunities CFOs can capitalize on with a strong rebate strategy

5 opportunities CFOs can capitalize on with a strong rebate strategy

Looking for new ways to become a strong and modern CFO? Look no further than this article on the 5 opportunities available to forward-looking CFOs to capitalize on a strong rebate strategy.

Why a strong rebate strategy is important in finance

Modern CFOs aren’t just strategic thinkers. Sure, it’s their responsibility to turn raw financial data into meaningful plans, but they also have to balance strategy with details, manage employees, overcome organizational silos, and even be agents of cultural change on occasion. Having their finger on the pulse of their organization’s financial heartbeat makes CFOs naturally inclined to improve profits and reduce losses.

As a result, it’s surprising how many organizations still rely on antiquated tools like Excel spreadsheets to manage rebates: Tools that drive the selling behavior of resellers and distributors on more than ten trillion dollars in North America and Europe alone.

A strong rebate strategy isn’t just a competitive differentiator. It can be the difference between seeing the department handling rebates as a cost center or a profit center as Enable’s customer, Chadwell Supply, explains.

If rebates aren’t already an important part of your financial strategy, perhaps they should be?  

The modern CFO and the strategic role they play in rebate management

Today, the CFO’s role is broader and more demanding than it ever has been. The modern CFO is no longer just required to be financially astute and far-thinking. CFOs are also expected to be strategic collaborators and strong communicators, fluent in technology, and hungry for information (not just data).

That’s a big ask.

The ICAEW says the CFO can take one, or more, of these eight different strategic roles. The CFO can be a leader, a strategic analyst, a creator, a critical thinker, an adjudicator, an orchestrator, an implementor, a communicator, or any combination of these, depending on their skill, aptitude, and interest. However, CFOs are always expected to be outward-looking, able to focus on the customer, and be able to “lift up the business to think longer-term”.

Being able to think long-term usually requires the ability to implement solutions now to meet future capacity and enable future success to create value. Perhaps the answer lies in the intelligent use of technology like rebate management software? Certainly, research by Accenture on how CFOs are driving growth reveals that “41% of CFOs say the most impactful initiative they were instrumental in driving was identifying and unlocking new value (such as through new business models). And 26% say enabling innovation is the most significant outcome that they’ve achieved across the enterprise.”

5 opportunities CFOs can capitalize on, with a strong rebate strategy

Effective rebate management can increase the bottom line in six ways, as we reveal in this article. Indeed, that’s why many of Enable’s customers have called our rebate management software a no-brainer. But let’s go into a few CFO-specific benefits in more detail, below, to illustrate five opportunities CFOs can capitalize on with a strong rebate strategy.

“Rebate management software ultimately pays for itself in both customer satisfaction and in accurate, timely payments, as well as by allowing us to analyze which rebates programs work and which don’t work.”
- Bob Gay, Manager of Customer Profitability and Rebates, AAP
  • Untapped revenue and value architecture

The first opportunity that rebate management brings to the strategic CFO is increased revenue potential – either by increasing the value of the received rebate or reducing rebate spending. But the strategic benefits of managing rebates effectively for the CFO go beyond mere numbers into the heady arena of value architecture.

IGIGlobal calls value architecture “the combination of a company's choices concerning its management, positioning, and resources which result in a value offering.” The CFO’s key role is to create and increase value – to the business, to shareholders, and to partners – but today’s expectations of the CFO go beyond financial acumen. CFOs are expected to enhance the non-traditional skills of the finance function such as analytics, business agility, value architecture, and, yes, even storytelling! At least, that’s what 72% of CFOs are introducing to their teams, according to this source.

  • Streamlined processes to save time

An article in Forbes reminds us that the Strategic CFO does more than just numbers, he or she should be able to “leverage tech to streamline routine redundant tasks, which will help achieve related efficiencies resulting in more freed up time to invest in value-additive, strategic thinking”.

One of the biggest opportunities for a strategic CFO is the ability to automate financial processes using intelligent software. In their 2018 CFO report, Grant Thorton reported that 40% of the finance executives who participated in their research see the following potential benefits of automating finance: Better data quality for strategic analysis (43%), increased process speed and efficiency (43%), and reduced errors (42%).

Why is increasing process speed so important? Saving your finance team time isn’t just an efficiency driver, it improves effectiveness. The difference is important. If efficiency is simply about reducing the cost to serve business needs, effectiveness is the finance team’s ability to deliver on those needs.

  • Data-driven insights (analytics)

One of our customers explains that before they used Enable, the person running reports would have to do so after hours or on weekends, simply to free up the processing time. In a world where spreadsheets or disconnected tools rule, pulling data together to create a meaningful picture of business progress is time-consuming at best, Herculean at worst. The burden of simply pulling data together for reports tends to reduce, if not prohibit, accurate and valuable data analytics.

The alternative, when data flows freely between systems, is accurate forecasting. When rebate forecasting is systematized and data-driven, greater business insight is possible. An added benefit is that audit trails improve, disputes are often reduced, and trading partners can use rebates for mutual benefit: The beginning of true partnerships.

This is an obvious opportunity that CFOs can capitalize on with a strong rebate strategy.

  • Business agility

“The rapid, continuous, and systematic evolutionary adaptation and entrepreneurial innovation directed at gaining and maintaining competitive advantage” is another way of describing business agility.

What makes a modern CFO good at identifying how to leverage technology to improve business agility? Omar Choucair says, “The CFO must not only understand which technologies and adaptive workflows can help to advance an organization but also become a champion for the adoption of those technologies, freeing efficiencies, increasing agility, and improving employee retention and morale.”

An easy way to increase adoption is to use a tool that is easy to use. NuLiv Science says that Enable has “by far the best user interface”. It’s just one way of making it easy for CFOs to evolve the systems their organization uses, to improve agility, and leverage competitive advantage.

  • Improving hiring and retention

Using the right technology also helps accelerate cloud adoption – a precursor to effective remote operations. This, in turn, makes it easier to hire, retain, and develop digital skills in finance and accounting personnel. The Hackett Group reports that “nearly 60% of finance organizations have a 2022 initiative designed to improve the interaction model between finance and business stakeholders, making it one of the most prevalent finance initiatives of any type”. Imagine if rebate management software could do this?

It can. Enable helps organizations improve partnership, accuracy, and data. But, more importantly, it reduces friction between finance, commercial, sales, and management teams since everyone is working from the same data and can easily view, sign and progress deals with far less hassle.

Automation saves time. But it also improves the way people feel about their jobs. In today’s challenging job market, being able to identify, retain and empower the right talent is one of the CFO’s key responsibilities. Since 42% of CFOs interviewed said that they will increase spending on HR/talent this year, according to a BDO survey, it’s only logical to conclude that making life easier for any team members involved in the historically arduous process of managing rebates can only make things better.

If you’re not convinced by these 5 opportunities CFOs can capitalize on with a strong rebate strategy, we invite you to try Enable’s rebate management software for yourself, for free. We think you’ll like what you see. Most people do.

Elizabeth Lavelle

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