In these challenging economic times, every part of every organisation is under scrutiny to some degree other. As Finance professionals we are often in the group of people who are playing a vital role in identifying ways of delivering the right quality at the lowest cost.
When looking at other functions or parts of an organisation it is much easier to detach yourself from the choices being made. On the other hand when it is your function that is under scrutiny then things are a little different.
Of course as an accountant you understand the importance of review. At the same time as a team do you regularly step back, take stock and consider what you are doing. If so, do you take time to stop, take stock and consider what you are doing personally.
One of the great benefits of being in a profession is that once you get the relevant professional qualification you are pretty well rewarded financially. On the other hand when others are looking at where money is spent, the chances are you will be further up the list than the average employee.
Trouble is that it is all too easy to get comfortable, to rest on your laurels and go into some form of auto pilot. In this situation before you know it you become at risk and before you know it the wheels of that promising career can very easily grind to a halt.
The key to avoiding this situation which is without doubt within your control and influence to some extent is to keep the focus on making a difference. For people within finance and accounting roles this should mean contributing to bottom line results.
Of course you need to do all the core bits like monthly management accounts, statutory financial accounts, cash and working capital management and tax returns. This however is really the minimum and in truth a lot of it could be done anywhere and potentially by people with a lot less expertise who are much cheaper.
The real value from any profession, including accounting comes from making a real difference.
At the core is being clear about services that are being offered so that those who use our services are crystal clear about what they can expect. This should be clear and ambiguous so that there is absolute clarity. It should also be written down in service level agreements.
Next it is vital that performance is reported against the service level agreement and there is complete transparency whether targets are achieved or not.
It’s also vital to regularly collect measure and report on the feedback that is received and to track trends on the perceived value in the eyes of those that use your services.
It requires a mindset that continually considers what can we do even better individually and collectively. Where we are spending time and having little impact? Where we are really making a difference?
Ultimately a finance team and individual members of that finance team should be able to write a one page review that shows precisely how they have performed and highlights what has been achieved.
How do you and your finance team do against that ultimate test?
Duncan Brodie helps accountants to achieve more career success. He is author of the eboook How To Have A Successful Career In Accountancy
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.