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Author's profile photo Christina Grace

The CAO’s Wheelhouse


  • access to real-time financial information allowing employees to act in the moment
  • collaboration enabled with harmonized data and a single version of the truth
  • predictability allowing your CFO to speak with confidence to industry analysts
  • ensuring the resilience of your business

This isn’t a dream…. this is the reality of the intelligent enterprise!

The Chief Accounting Officer (CAO) is traditionally responsible for day-to-day accounting functions, financial reporting, and governance and compliance. In this capacity, he or she must ensure that all ledger accounts, financial statements, and cost control systems are operating effectively. They manage the close and consolidation and external reporting.  They oversee profitability and performance reporting and trend analysis.  They also ensure tax, regulatory, and statutory compliance.  In short, they manage many people and many processes.

The role of the CAO is evolving.  Today, they are called upon to be disruptors.  They are increasingly seen as strategic business partners with critical technological projects in their portfolio of responsibility.  The successful CAO will lead areas that reach far beyond accounting, including systems, big data, and technology. They often lead innovation projects driving a move to the Cloud and automation and efficiency improvements. The next-gen CAO understands the strategic direction of other functions in the organization to drive impact.  They lead large teams of people who provide world-class accounting functionality, budgeting and forecasting with predictive automation by implementing and levering automation and innovation to create process agility and efficiency.  They are often focused on transformation and business partnering.  The CAO understands that the accounting function must be integrated with the larger organization to make speedy strategic decisions on behalf of the entire company.  Understanding the strategic direction of the entire organization and using data-driven predictive insight can drive great impact for the company.

Support for the CAO’s Journey to Integration

Great organizations hire CAOs that drive integration to bring the total organization together.  An individual who recognizes and embraces this change will take their career to new heights.  Business partnership and leading transformation is a great differentiator for the CAO because he or she has the broadest reach in the organization and is responsible for bringing all processes and people together to create efficient and simple end to end processes.  Ideally, they are the right hand to the CFO, responsible for innovating to provide one source of truth with seamless technological automation and advanced analytics.

How Can SAP Help?

SAP supports the CAO with the intelligent enterprise and integrated business planning.  This is implemented with flexibility using business process intelligence.  The modern financial platform, with embedded analytics and automation will free them  up to focus on value added activities such as strategy and business partnering.  Using SAC, the digital boardroom, and predictive analytics, the CAO’s organization can take advantage of the right automation at the right time to enhance their individual skillset and value to the organization as a business partner and strategist.  The CAO, usually managing the largest organization within finance, can also benefit from remote workplace tools such as access governance, cybersecurity, and data privacy.  Automation and innovation provide the opportunity to make processes and procedures more efficient both during the close and after the close with improvements such as agile scheduling and reconciliation.  Lastly, they, like everyone in finance, care about financial compliance and risk management.  With tools that cover everything from cybersecurity to corporate governance, SAP can contribute to de-risking that area.

These tools support an agile approach to achieving the benefits of the digital enterprise quickly.  When you are ready, transform at your own pace and only as much as you need. At SAP, we understand that our customers may no longer have the appetite for large, multiyear projects that were so common over the last few decades. Therefore, our latest innovations are designed with this in mind, allowing you to unleash immediate value through targeted financial process and functional enhancement and, if needed, paving the way for bigger enterprise-wide transformation further down the road. Your incremental investment now will lay the foundation, not simply act as a temporary fix to be replaced later.  Nothing is throw-away or transitional. In fact, each piece is a steppingstone with the flexibility and agility to adapt incrementally, tactically, and with an eye on the bigger strategic goal. Choose your starting point based on your most pressing needs and build from there, with the flexibility to uncover value now and increase that value as you move to full enterprise-wide SAP S/4HANA.

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