Trying to improve the productivity of a finance staff is only possible when the major challenges facing the financial industry are properly diagnosed and dealt with. Some of the most notable challenges are outlined by Tom Kelly, Managing Directory, T-Edward, Inc. in the webinar titled, “Biggest Challenges Facing Finance.”
Sustaining Productivity Improvements
In the past years, many corporations have made efforts to increase the productivity in their companies. This has been done by upgrading processing technology and streamlining communication protocols. Something that the finance world is concerned about, however, is making sure that these changes in productivity are permanent. It seems that once the new applications are in place and the push for more efficiency slackens a little bit, the productivity levels can tend to slink back down.
One of the best ways to sustain productivity improvements is to utilize the right technology. Upgrading your processes should be done with giant leaps rather than tiny steps. These larger steps will make it possible to put in place new regulations without having to make new changes every few months, when the new software or devices are rolled out.
Changing Role of Finance
The role of the CFO has changed drastically over the years, but the last 5 years especially have seen some big changes in the roles that the CFO is expected to take. If you have been struggling with the new job description that has come with your finance title, then some of the following things can help you with this:
- Adhere to the new processes put in place: Make sure that your new standards apply to you as well as to everyone else.
- Utilize the right technology: Cloud technology has especially provided some good platforms for financial planning and strategic decisions.
- Align the departments: The goals made in the finance department have to be made in a way to improve things in every area of the business. Communication needs to happen between all departments so that the strategic decisions made can boost the company in a comprehensive way.
Time seems to be of the essence in the finance world right now. Being quick is hard to do when there are so many unnecessary steps involved in the process. Something that can help you with this is to take a good look at the protocols you have in place. Are there steps that can be removed? Are there better people to handle certain tasks? Do things have to be done in one specific order every time?
An analysis of this nature will allow you to streamline the process and alter the workflow in a way that will speed things up. The communication and collaboration needed to enable this streamlined process can be done via cloud technology.
To make good changes, you will need good information. Your rolling forecasts can’t change in the right ways if you are not getting the right data. The organizations within the company need to be turning in accurate reports on a regular basis.
Increasing the ease of communication will make it possible for you to integrate the right changes in each sector of the company to make things work in the most effective way possible. You can better steer the ship in the right direction when you are given the right reports in a timely manner.
Real Time Visibility
Things are changing on a minute-by-minute basis at times. This means that you need a way to see how things are moving in a real-time way. The only way to do this well right now is with the new technologies that are available.
What this means for you as a finance professional is that you might need to take the time to educate yourself. You have to make the effort to be conscious of what is available, and how those things can work for you. Not only will this help you to best optimize the utilization of these tech tools, but it will also lessen your reliance on the IT departments.
Business is now done on a global scale. This has made it possible to drastically increase revenue and sales opportunities, but it also presents some very unique challenges for the finance departments including, but not limited to the following:
- Business hour shifts
- Language barriers
- International tax laws
- Changes in report styles
- Information on foreign markets
If your company is taking their business to the global market, then you might want to make sure that there are people on the finance staff who are specifically experienced and trained to handle some of these unique challenges.
Transparency and visibility can do so much for bringing different parts of the company together. There needs to be one system that everyone is working from. This makes for one version of the truth so that everyone is working from the same data and can make decisions based off of that one set of data.
This will mean better reporting from all departments, but you have to take it a step farther by being very honest and factual about what you are doing with that information. Show the company what resources you are working with and what is being done with those resources. This transparency will create a good conversation about the right changes to make, and can lead to much more productive financial planning meetings.