A study conducted by CFO Research, commissioned by SAP, found that 58% of finance leaders believe that their staff is overwhelmed by the demands placed on them. Finance operations personnel are often shortchanged for time, drowning in a sea of tasks and meetings, resulting in their being “unable to meet deadlines due to overload.” Finance leaders have great faith in their employees’ capabilities, but also have to struggle with missed deadlines.
Unleashing the potential of the finance function
Significant obstacles remain in progressing from slow to efficient and effective.
The study noted that over half of these senior executives surveyed are concerned that the systems they rely on require a great deal of manual intervention to be effective. This results in significant delays. The same study found that poor, inefficient processes are also a common pain point. With this in mind, the study notes, CFOs have to push for an overhaul of tools and processes and employ shrewd people-management strategies to unleash the full potential of the finance function. Here are some tips:
1. Consider the “two pizza rule”
A Deloitte report on the overwhelmed employee cited research findings showing that consciously configuring team size can be effective – for example, the “two pizza rule” created by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos. The rule states that all meetings should be small enough that two pizzas can feed everyone in the room. Why? Because small, agile teams are more productive than larger groups.
Another method is to move toward short bursts of communication (for example, 15-minute meetings) to reduce the time and emotional burden of lengthy meetings.
2. Make the technology count
In the same study by CFO Research, the majority of respondents point to upgrading their information systems as a top consideration to improve finance operations. This is because finance leaders believe that their staff will further benefit from an investment in a common technology platform that can synchronize and automate disparate processes, helping mitigate the manual interventions that plague finance operations today. Upgrading information systems will also enable finance staff to transform from data aggregators to analysts that make critical recommendations to stakeholders, thereby adding value to the business.
The starting point in upgrading your current information systems is to identify what optimizations can be made and where. You can then explore solutions that can help you gain real-time visibility into your company’s data and open channels of collaboration with different key stakeholders in the business.
3. Become a technology evangelist
A positive tone from the top is very important in order to keep staff motivated and interested in fully embracing the changes brought about by new technologies. Lead by example and become a vocal advocate of the new tools put in place. Encourage staff to explore these tools and make them realize first-hand how technology can help them work more efficiently.
A technology partner can help you with this process and work with you to develop a robust training program that orients staff and other stakeholders on the new implementations. The training sessions will also be an opportunity to communicate the value of these new tools and how they can positively impact day-to-day work as well as the company as a whole.
To learn more about how finance executives can empower themselves with the right tools and play a vital role in business innovation and value chain, review the finance content hub, which offers additional research and valuable insights.