Each fiscal year brings forth a new set of challenges and opportunities for any organization, especially within the Office of Finance. No matter the industry, every financial leader is tasked with ensuring their organization remains stable and navigates through rough waters as needed. As we all know, keeping everything in balance isn’t always easy; new waves of regulations or unprecedented circumstances can quickly capsize the boat without much warning, meaning the captain needs to be alert at all times.
With all that mind, what can Chief Financial Officers (CFOs) and their accounting teams do to ensure they’re as prepared as possible to provide stability and support for the year-long journey ahead? Here are five recommendations to keep in mind when navigating rough waters.
1. Bridge the Gap from Finance to Business Strategy
The role of the modern finance team is ever-changing; previously accountants mostly crunched numbers and recorded transactions in everyday business operations to provide an accurate report of business performance. In an effort to pivot to address newer opportunities and challenges, finance and accounting teams are adding financial automation solutions to their tool kit to further optimize their roles and allow them to contribute to high-level strategic initiatives.
By automating manual-heavy close processes such as balance sheet reconciliation or transaction matching, accountants can monitor real-time analytics and provide critical insights to finance leaders and C-suite executives, further bridging the gap between finance and business strategy.
2. Master Business Operations Inside and Out
As the role of the modern CFO continues to evolve, there is a high priority placed on an understanding of what truly drives business performance short-, mid-, and long-term. KPMG surveyed one hundred CFOs from leading technology and communications companies to find that both internal and operating experience are key drivers for CFO — and organizational— success.
“This correlation of two different factors–experience in operations and internal experience–indicates the critical importance of having an inside understanding of a business in order to effectively manage the impact of financial decisions on the company’s operations.” —KPMG
By having a comprehensive understanding of the business operation and framework, financial leaders can identify areas for growth and improvement for the whole organization. Today’s CFO is more than just identifying business performance; they are a key role in navigating the entire organization through uncertain waters.
3. Configure a Finance Tech Stack
As technology becomes a requirement in every finance team, it’s crucial that CFOs place a high focus on adopting a finance tech stack that can optimize accounting workflows. Configuring a set of solutions that not only reduces manual-heavy processes but also improves productivity reaps many benefits for any organization.
This emphasis on reducing manual tasks means not only reduces the time spent on transaction matching or account reconciliation but it also vastly enhances the overall finance workflow, from recording figures to reporting and auditing. The shift away from legacy tools and spreadsheets enables organizations to make business-critical decisions from data-driven analytics.
4. Review and Update Current Processes
It essential to evaluate finance workflows by pausing at the end of one fiscal year to review what went well and what could be improved upon for the next fiscal. Sit down with your finance team to conduct a thorough de-brief and review of your own internal processes. Are there processes in place that lead to bottlenecks and a delay in any financial close processes?
When updating current processes, include other key departments as well. Are there solutions that departments wish they had in place to better optimize their time? Your own co-workers are often the best source of information to initiate incremental improvements that can help move the needle on the organization’s overall accounting process.
5. Automate to a Work-Life Balance
The finance industry is notorious for long hours and work-life imbalance. Recruiting and retaining staff is still a substantial issue for financial leaders; in fact, up to 50% of managers have employees who are routinely facing burnout due to heavy workloads and lengthy hours. In a field where manual-heavy processes and legacy tools are still being utilized, there’s no doubt that retention is a primary concern for finance and accounting teams.
As financial innovations continue to change the face of the modern finance team, it’s crucial that managers consider alleviating the heavy workloads for their employees by investing in software solutions that help the average accountant achieve a healthier work-life balance. By automating repetitive tasks that can take hours, if not days, to complete, organizations can benefit from improved employee morale, higher retention, and an increased contribution to key business strategies.
By keeping these five tips in mind, finance leaders can adequately prepare accounting teams for the future and help organizations navigate uncertain environments. To ensure the success of finance and accounting teams long-term, these strategies should be implemented on a gradual basis, starting from process improvement and inching towards operational and enterprise change. Watch this joint webinar with Auxis and Trintech to discover how modernizing close processes and evolving accounting roles can enable organizations to remain agile and competitive in an uncertain environment.
Written by: Alex Clem