Corporate finance departments are undergoing rapid change. Data-driven technology is enabling them to streamline their traditional accounting roles while mining new insights that can help them improve and add value to their operations.
The technology at the heart of this finance transformation comprises Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software and Enterprise Performance Management (EPM) systems. ERP software sits at the heart of all modern finance systems, structuring transactional data and helping to coordinate the company’s resources, producing real-time operational data. EPM systems, on the other hand, go one step further by providing analysis and a user-friendly interface to help managers gain insights and report on their business.
In this tech-led transformation, the old accountancy skill sets that had provided an entry into the profession and promotion within it are no longer sufficient on their own. It’s now prudent for practitioners and prospective new entrants to burnish their expertise with additional data-related skills.
By doing so, they improve their employability prospects with employers engaged in the ongoing digital transformation of their finance departments and looking for staff capable of working across a range of systems and platforms.
Certifications and Courses
The multi-disciplinary nature of modern finance departments means that professionals should be looking to acquire a broad range of new skills. Here we list the most popular systems and software, along with training courses that offer proficiency qualifications.
Finance Systems Software
Below are the key finance systems in terms of ERP and EPM software, and the courses and certifications that are offered. SAP, Oracle and Microsoft offer certified training courses in the use of their products, while others provide training courses without certification. Alternatively, third-party organisations offer their own certified learning pathways for many of the products listed here.
Enterprise Resource Planning
- German software giant SAP creates systems that underpin many corporate treasuries. Its SAP Business One is a scalable solution built mainly for small- and medium-sized enterprises, while SAP S/4HANA is a cloud-based ERP designed for larger companies. SAP provides training in using and maintaining its products via the SAP Certification programme.
- Oracle has developed its own cloud-based Fusion ERP product that uses artificial intelligence to automate processes. Certified training “paths” are provided in its various applications by Oracle University.
- Oracle’s Netsuite alternative is considered more customisable. The company’s University offers certified training in a number of the platform’s applications.
- Microsoft has launched a suite of business automation tools under its Dynamics 365 offering, which includes functionality for financial operations. Microsoft offers a Dynamics 365 Fundamentals qualification for early-career financial professionals.
- Infor’s SunSystems is a versatile financial management platform that’s noted for its integrated analytics tools.
- Unit4 is an ERP manufacturer whose financial management software is used by universities, charities, public bodies and non-profits as well as commercial businesses. Its top-end products are Unit4 Financials and Unit4 ERP Financials.
- Workday’s cloud-based software-as-a-service ERP combines financial management tools with human capital management software.
Enterprise Performance Management
- OneStream has developed an EPM that can be customised with bolt-on functionality available through its OneStream Marketplace. Four levels of role-based certification are offered through exams.
- Oracle’s Hyperion Financial Management combines two EPM capabilities that provide for budgeting and forecasting as well as planning. Oracle University offers exam-based qualifications in a variety of its applications.
- Workday’s Adaptive Planning suite is pitched at companies of all sizes, and encompasses financial, workforce, sales and operational planning functionality.
- Anaplan touts its EPM as providing greater across-enterprise transparency in real time.
- The Certified Public Accountant (CPA) designation proffered by the Certified Public Accountants Association and recognized internationally. It identifies practitioners as having a relevant degree (and other certification related to specific skills), extensive work experience and is only awarded once the CPA exam is passed.
- Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) is the professional membership organisation of CPAs and runs its own courses and certification programmes.
- The Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) is an international accounting professional organisation. It oversees the training for and issuance of the Chartered Certified Accountant qualification.
- Similarly, The Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) and the Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT) are globally acknowledged organisations that provide targeted training.
Knowing how to use technology is one thing – knowing how to create the code behind puts candidates at another level altogether.
The Chartered Institute for IT, better known as the British Computer Society (BCS), teaches a broad range of tech-related courses including software testing, DevOps and Artificial Intelligence.
Project Management Certifications
Being able to tie together the disparate tasks and functions of specific objectives within the context of allocated capital and human resources is an in-demand skill as finance departments are asked to take on wider roles. Many courses are tailored to specific project management methodologies.
- Project Management Professional (PMP) Certification can be taught in a variety of settings along with other related skills that also lead to recognised qualifications.
- The Project Management Institute (PMI) provides certified training that’s tailored to professionals at different stages of their careers.
- Among the PMI’s most-recognised courses is that which leads to practitioners becoming a Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM).
Other approaches that carry their own certification courses include SCRUM, PRINCE2 (Projects IN Controlled Environments), Waterfall and Agile.
As more responsibilities are handed over to finance professionals they will be expected to know how their activities fit into the objectives of the broader enterprise.
- Maximising value while minimising waste is at the core of the influential Lean approach to business and can be learnt through these certification
- Master of Business Administration (MBA) degrees are popular and offered by almost all universities and vocational training bodies, including the Open University.
Whether you are a finance professional or a candidate looking to work within a corporate treasury setting, having a working understanding of financial technology, ERP and EPM systems will empower you to achieve those ambitions. Learning those skills through programmes recognised by the industry’s leading institutions will provide qualifications that can open doors to new jobs and promotions.