How to Improve Communication in the Finance Department
Accountants have always been concerned with details and having a well-organized finance department. Being able to communicate effectively is becoming more and more important, especially now that finance departments are taking on a more advisory role within the workplace. An effective meeting, or a well-written email with important action points can be what saves a project or audit.
Trying to work efficiently and communicate well while the tools your company uses are outdated is a frustrating exercise. Conveying clear messages and expectations becomes practically impossible when information is scattered across various files, binders and in the heads of you and your colleagues. With modern technology, all information and feedback can be gathered in one place, giving everyone the same data to work with and enabling better communication and collaboration between coworkers.
How do we do it? Here’s how leaders can leverage modern technology to improve communication within the finance and accounting department.
4 Tips for Improved Communication in Finance & Accounting
Build one source of truth
It is difficult to communicate effectively about financial processes, progress on specific tasks and provide insights without being absolutely sure that the whole team is referring to the same source. When multiple people work with various spreadsheets, paper invoices, and receipts, it is almost impossible to know what the most recent and correct version of the data is.
It is only by digitizing and standardizing all documentation and processes that teams can be sure they have a single source on which to base their work and communication. Not only will this help the finance and accounting teams to communicate, but it will also help save time in planning and reporting to help accountants free up time to be able to offer more strategic business advice.
Create a platform for collaboration
E-mail and in-person or virtual meetings are traditionally how most people communicate in a workplace. But when the average office worker spends around three hours a day reading and responding to e-mail, it becomes clear that e-mail is not the most efficient method of communication to leverage during busy periods.
Innovative companies that have employees spread over different locations and time zones should invest in a solution that offers collaboration capabilities in the cloud. There are now solutions that centralize task lists and controls, which automatically document progress for each step of the processes. Automatic alerts and other notices keep everyone up to date on the progress of the project, which makes project communication significantly more efficient and improves employee morale as well.
Develop a coherent plan
Knowing what to do and when to do it is the foundation of good communication. Before starting a major task, spend time creating a clear and coherent plan to guide your team through the tasks. Defining points for internal control is an important part of this process to ensure that tasks are carried out in an orderly, efficient, and accurate manner. It is also important to ensure a clear audit trail is available. Risk should be identified, analyzed, and assessed based on the company’s risk profile. This is especially important when new employees join the team, as every company has its own way of managing processes across the business.
Invest in the employee
In the accounting world, as in any other department, a small miscommunication or error in the numbers can lead to big mistakes. Accounting managers should work closely with HR to assess new hires for these skills, by either including those preferred skills in job descriptions or finding ways to test them in the hiring process. It is also worth investing in the education and training of existing employees to establish good communication practices.
There are several courses and certificates available through various organizations such as associations and financial forums, which include modules on communication and report writing. It can also be useful to use a good communicator among existing employees to develop and implement a tailored practice based on the company’s specific processes and culture.
Communication does not have to be a complicated affair for the finance and accounting department. To ensure that your employees have the right tools available for effective communication, learn more about our solutions.