By: Dawn Smith, Partner
In today’s world there are so many challenges for senior leaders – new accounting standards, new controls, financial reporting transparency requirements and technology changes. While you likely have a plan to address these challenges and may have even secured the appropriate budgets, many organizations struggle because they are failing to effectively partner with their own internal teams as well as with business units directly. Companies often attempt to reconcile the gap by developing a plan, but ignore the most crucial element of the initiative, the people who are executing it. All of these challenges have one factor in common – having the right people in the right roles to move forward in the most successful manner.
Start with Defining and Providing a Vision to Your Team
In order for your team to execute in a way that supports the organization’s overall purpose and strategy, a clear vision of the finance function has to be in place and be consistently supported by senior leaders. This is not just a how-to plan, this is a future view of what a successful outcome looks like. By giving your team a common vision they will be able to focus on what is most important and make sound decisions going forward.
Reconsider Technology To Promote Successful Execution
Having the right technology in place will be an important part of the equation. Many companies face challenges with poor integration between IT systems, lack of access to key data and poor quality data. In addition, data and data analytics are most effective when in real time. Unfortunately, even the best technology has the ability to disrupt how business operates in both areas of strategy and the ways in which the finance team works with the business units. A key to success will be involving people with the skills and aptitude to work with technological innovations and the ability to adjust to rapid change and new approaches when necessary.
Bridging the Partnership Gap
Recent Ernst & Young research shows that 67 percent of CFOs worldwide believe that “improving business partnering between finance and the business” is a major priority of the finance function. It is imperative that the finance function have a team of highly credible and knowledgeable finance executives capable of interfacing with its internal business units. Value can be added by being able to challenge the business units’ strategies, not just their budgets. This will take a combination of subject-matter expertise as well as strong communication skills to negotiate with the business units.
Capitalize on Your Team
The finance function has evolved and so has the need to build teams with the skills and attributes to adapt. Now more than ever people continue to be one of the most important, if not the most important, factor in the success of your organization. Investing in the right people, which begins by determining the new skills and capabilities your organization will require, will be a top priority. The vision needs to include how smart technology and smart people should work together to create value as well as how new technologies will allow people to use their strengths to succeed. The right mix of people, technology and internal partnerships will allow you to respond quickly to changing business needs and solidify finance’s role in driving the business forward.