5 Ways to Upgrade Your Finance Team - SystemsAccountants

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes 5 Ways to Upgrade Your Finance Team

Building a finance team with defined roles and clear procedures is critical as your company grows. Too many companies believe the finance and accounting arm somehow works like gravity, but everything will eventually come crashing down without an upgrade to well-defined finance structures.

By taking a series of concrete actions, CFOs can help their finance department overcome growing pains and evolve into a well-oiled machine. The following steps help will CFOs upgrade their finance department, reduce complexities, and become the effective finance leader a maturing company needs. 


Assess Current Finance Team Talent

To begin upgrading your team, start with stabilising the current situation. That’s where finance team members enter the picture. Assess their work based on timeliness, accuracy, and completeness. Can they work independently on tasks and collaborate with others to complete group projects?

In addition, look for skill gaps. Most of the U.S. workforce (58%) need new skills to do their jobs, according to research from Gartner. Sometimes you will have to upgrade the person, and sometimes you will have to upgrade the position. 


Promote Teamwork

Observe how team members work. More specifically, are they working in a coordinated way? If they are producing data for other team members without knowing the objective, it’s probably a signal that a part of the department is siloed, which drains time and money from the bottom line.

Salesforce found that 86% of employees and executives blamed lack of collaboration or ineffective communication for workplace failures. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

To improve teamwork, focus on the handoffs. For example, if you need information from me, telling me how you will use the data before I put it together will make the whole process more collaborative and, more importantly, efficient. That little bit of insight will allow me to give you the correct information in the right format and by a set deadline to help you achieve your goal.


Evaluate the Technology Stack

Midsize companies can rely heavily on spreadsheets, even though an automated system’s capabilities would simplify things. It is not uncommon for finance team members to load or enter data into a spreadsheet and then send it to another team member, who places the first spreadsheet inside another spreadsheet. An Accenture report found that 80% of finance processes could be automated, eliminating up to 75% of staff time.

“Just make sure you don’t go overboard with technology. Too many companies unknowingly create digital silos.”
Tim Jung. Director, CFO Consulting Partners

One option is to familiarise your finance department with a customer relationship management (CRM) tool. Bank reconciliations in a spreadsheet are not worth much if they are not connected to other reconciliations. CRMs have reconciliation built-in, so things quickly become integrated.

Just make sure you don’t go overboard with technology. Too many companies unknowingly create digital silos. On average, today’s large corporations use 367 software apps to manage their workflows, and frequently those apps don’t talk to each other.


Encourage Collaboration and Communication

Perception is an important dimension of a company, which is why it should be reviewed. Culture carries a direct line to employee satisfaction, productivity, and retention. And that links with customer satisfaction, sales, and retention. For this assessment, focus on the “internal” customers of your finance team, meaning fellow employees.

For example, does your finance team support a united front, or is it everyone for themselves? Watch how they distribute the work when someone takes a vacation. Does a distributed workplace with some team members in different states negatively impact them?

In North America, collaboration and communication silos cost seven hours per week or more than 350 hours per year, according to Plainview. To take corrective action, use a technique called modeling. Instead of asking for a solution, create one and reinforce it with all involved team members — lead by example. 

For example, if a team member needed information from me, I would ask them to provide the overall objectives. Then, I would pull the data in a format that would serve their needs. Once finished with the trial sample, I would present it to the intended team member and make adjustments based on feedback. After confirming the information and format are correct, I would educate other team members so they would know how to help the team member achieve their goals.


Create a Culture of Governance

Governance is about checks and balances. If I’m doing reconciliations, someone must check my work. When a customer sends a payment via paper check to the office, someone has to walk to the bank and make the deposit. But that’s not enough. Did the person put the checks in the proper accounts? How much did they deposit?

In this example, ensure someone logs the checks at the beginning of the process. Then, ask another team member to deposit the checks, make copies, and give those copies to the controller.

The things your finance team did to get you to this level of success may not be enough to handle the next growth phase. Methodically begin upgrading finance and accounting to move the entire company toward its next milestone.

Tim Jung, CPA/MBA, is a director at CFO Consulting Partners and has held leadership positions in the U.S., Europe, and Asia for complex global banking businesses, as well as nonprofit and for-profit organisations.


This article was written by Tim Jung from CFO.com and was legally licensed through the DiveMarketplace by Industry Dive. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@industrydive.com.