Finance functions play a vital part in the success of organisations in my experience.
A typical finance team has a lot of talented, smart and committed people who want to do a good job.
Equally they tend to be one of the more expensive teams to run, not least because they often have a lot of people with professional qualifications.
As a result they can sometimes come in for a lot of scrutiny from others in the organisation.
In my experience finance teams really do want to do a great job.
At the same time it’s really easy to become complacent and stuck in a rut.
So what are 7 keys to consider when it comes to improving the performance of the finance team?
Key 1: Clarity of Purpose
Everyone knows why the finance team exists – don’t they?
What I often see is that finance teams know all of the tasks they have to do.
On the other hand they don’t necessarily have clarity of purpose.
Without clarity it’s much more difficult to make sure that everyone is heading in the right direction and invest time and energies on the right things.
Make a point of having this as an agenda item in your next finance team meeting.
Key 2: Engage Your Customers or Clients
Do you see those that you serve as customers or clients?
Hopefully you do.
Those customers or clients have needs from your finance team.
Have you actually engaged with them recently to make sure that you are clear about their needs?
This will give you insight and more importantly help you to design your services and how you work to meet the needs of your customers and clients.
Key 3: Focus
Not on keeping busy but in doing more of the work that is going to make a difference to the success of the organisation.
Time or a lack of it is often one of the biggest issues for finance teams.
Yet when you start to look at where time is being invested, chances are you will discover a lot of activities that take a lot of time but deliver little value.
Key 4: Automation and Technology
For me this is an area that many finance functions have failed to fully exploit.
Yes many have upgraded their systems but fewer have really stood back and looked at how they might use technology to automate and do things differently.
Perhaps this is at least in part to senior people often having started out in finance when technology was a lot less common.
It’s kind of ironic that Excel often tends to be the most popular of training courses around.
Don’t get me wrong it’s a great application but hardly leading edge.
Key 5: Leadership
A lot of accountants do a great job at running teams and processes.
They are pretty rational and methodical.
Often what’s lacking is the leadership to drive things forward.
In truth finance teams have huge potential and can really make a difference.
Sometimes it’s just a case of creating the time and space to step back and look at how they can make a real difference to the success of their organisations.
Since 2006 I’ve worked with in excess of 8,000 accountants and professionals in workshops, seminars and one to one helping them land their next jobs and become better leaders, presenters and business partners. Before that I spent 25 years in accountancy climbing the career ladder from Payments Clerk to FD. I’m a CIMA Fellow, Certified Professional Coach and Team Coach Facilitator.