What is agile finance?

Where to start your agile finance transformation journey (0:38)

Agile finance is a methodology that embraces the technologies and skills to enable digital finance adoption. An agile finance organization is flexible, resilient, and efficient. Agile teams work quickly and decisively by flowing real-time data to decision-makers.

An agile organization can ideally combine velocity and adaptability with stability and efficiency.

McKinsey & Company

Characteristics of finance agility

To be agile, the finance function needs to follow these key practices:

  • An agile finance organization informs strategic thinking and leads the business by measuring and understanding the intangible drivers of value to stay ahead of competitive threats.
  • Agile teams utilize a planning framework that measures continual progress of strategic objectives and enables the business to get new products and services rapidly to market.
  • Agile organizations deliver forward-looking analysis that identify opportunities to innovate and increase revenue while also improving resource allocation by identifying what is—and was it not—generating value.

Benefits of agility

According to the Business Agility Institute’s latest report (PDF), there are three important benefits for organizations that operate with high levels of agility:

Commercial benefits

Improved speedy to market, adaptability, revenues, customer satisfaction, and higher quality products.

Workforce-related benefits

Improved employee engagement, transparency, and communication, along with reduction of silos.

Organizational benefits

Improved team autonomy, productivity, clear goals, and a culture of experimentation and innovation.

Traits of an agile finance organization

There are three common traits of an agile finance organization:


Operational Excellence

Agile organizations achieve operational excellence in finance with integrated cloud applications and streamlined processes to meet rising expectations for speed, accuracy, and control. According to joint research from AICPA & CIMA and Oracle, 86% of agile finance leaders have a digital-first and cloud-first mindset. It’s through technology that agile leaders gain efficiencies and intelligent process automation.


Digital Intelligence

Agile finance teams understand how to generate insights leveraging cloud and advanced technologies to drive decisions that create business value. Agile teams uncover new insights by relying on advanced technologies like artificial intelligence and machine learning to uncover hidden patterns, make accurate planning and forecasting recommendations, and learn continually from the non-stop flow of business data. Some organizations have a long way to go—according to research from AICPA/CIMA and Oracle, 37% of finance teams spend more time collecting data than analyzing it.


Business Influence

Leading finance teams adopt the skills and organizational factors to move beyond reporting and use data-driven insights to influence the direction of the business. With reduced time spent on manual reporting processes and armed with accurate and timely data, finance leaders are empowered to partner with the business, recommend new courses of action, and influence business strategy. Recent research from AICPA revealed only 10% of finance leaders say they have the skills they need to support the organization’s digital ambitions.

Trends in finance agility

Trends in finance agility

Recent research indicates that the acceleration of trends like digital transformation has highlighted the need for finance and accounting to adopt and agile mindset and begin to build new competencies in agile. A survey from AICPA’s Future of Finance Leadership Advisory Group showed “agile” among the top five competencies that finance and accounting professionals need for the future.

According to the 15th annual State of Agile Report from Digital.ai—the longest continuous yearly review of agile techniques and practices—finance and accounting had among the lowest adoption rates compared to other corporate functions, such as IT, marketing, operations, and HR.

Oracle and AICPA & CIMA training certificate

While there’s agreement that the future of finance is digital, information on how to adopt an agile finance transformation is scarce. To bridge that gap, Oracle and the AICPA collaborated to create a first-of-its-kind accreditation to upskill finance professionals to succeed with a digital model. The three-part Agile Finance Transformation Certificate Series provides in-depth instruction on how to adopt the expertise and technologies to automate tasks, improve accuracy, and provide strategic business value. The training combines theory, strategy, and practical advice to help you implement a digital transformation. Each session is delivered by an Oracle finance executive who will share proven best practices, along with lessons learned.