For years, corporate finance has been evolving from a department of bean-counters to a team of strategic partners to the company's business leaders. In companies that successfully make this transition, finance staff are relying on increasingly sophisticated processes and technologies for monitoring and management of the organization's financial performance.

In a recent survey report produced by APQC, the survey's sponsor, Grant Thornton, puts it like this: "To solidify their place as a value driver, CFOs need to understand the levers that drive the business and then make strategic, forward-looking decisions based on accurate business intelligence."

Understanding the company's key business drivers and then making decisions based on intelligence about those drivers is a best practice for finance, and for the rest of the corporate management team. But getting there is challenging. The recent APQC survey indicates that many finance organizations have a long way to go.

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