What role does the finance department play?
When you think of your role in the finance department, do you feel empowered to drive change across the organization? You may not, but you certainly should.
When leveraged properly, finance leaders create cost savings, promote collaboration across teams and advocate for technology advancements and company-wide automation. Yet so many finance departments are bogged down by a traditional perception of their role in compliance and reporting. These valuable team members struggle to create change and drive efficiencies on a larger scale.
Understanding the obstacles finance teams face
The finance team is often a reactive body within an organization. As the business environment evolves, finance hustles to adjust internal processes and manually manipulate data to deliver bespoke, on-demand reports when the requests come in from leadership. It’s a role ripe for error—and failure. While delivering deep insight is certainly within the purview of the finance team, shifting gears in real-time and manually adjusting internal processes for one-off reports and quickly become a full-time job in and of itself.
According to Strategic Finance, studies show that nearly 80% of controllers believe the finance function adds a great deal of value to the organization, but only 22% believe that those outside finance see their role as adding a great deal of organizational value. It’s essential to change that perception, both within the finance department and throughout the organization.
This begins with promoting the qualities and characteristics of truly valuable finance teams, understanding how these team members are driving best practices across the organization and empowering the finance department to share this expertise.
3 Signs of Highly Successful Finance Departments
1. Strategic Thinking
The evolving role of the finance professional stretches beyond traditional tasks like transaction processing and financial reporting. In fact, future finance leaders will be required to have a “combination of financial skills, strong leadership and communication skills, and business acumen.” Is your team thinking toward the future? Ensuring you have the right finance team—with the right mindset—is essential in taking traditional finance roles to the next level.
2. Tech Savvy
Key stakeholders in your finance department need the right technology tools and the skills to wield them. Across industries, for “financial leaders more frequently working with their CIOs, and at times overseeing information technology departments, success requires an innate curiosity about technological advancements and an openness to adopting them.” While your financial team doesn’t need to be stacked with IT specialists, a core competency in tech and automation trends will go a long way. Properly leveraged technology systems keep organizations efficient, and reduce the time and resources required to do basic financial projects.
3. Optimized Staffing
Modern finance departments have the benefit of agility and scalability, with a diverse, qualified team to meet the needs of the larger organization. According to Gartner, it’s “critical for [finance managers] to be clear about the finance activities [employees] do or don’t need to perform, while allowing employees to work more independently.” They should also assess current finance structure and “select activities to outsource.” In examining finance department roles, it is consistently a question of quality over quantity.
Success Story: Empowering the finance team
While some finance teams are able to gradually implement best practices, sometimes change and disruption in the industry force your hand. Faced with fewer dine-in customers in the age of online ordering and takeout, Firehouse Restaurant Group CFO Vincent Burchianti realized he needed to change with the times. Mobile ordering and delivery technology has restaurants reconsidering their real estate footprint, technology needs, and financial models.
For Burchianti, the solution is delivered right to your door. “In response to the delivery trend and the cost of the third-party services, the company is working to bolster its internal delivery capabilities. It partnered with a former Domino’s franchisee to develop a delivery model for the company.” Burchianti’s quick, strategic move better positions his company to respond to changes in the industry while still focusing on prudent, financial decisions.
How do you ensure the finance team is adding value?
At the heart of these characteristics is a question of value: how do you ensure you’re enabling your finance department to be a value-add? After all, highly successful finance teams are only as valuable as the organization allows them to be.
While the basic functions—bookkeeping and running reports—will always be the bread and butter of the finance team, being able to leverage these tools to success is what sets top-tier organizations apart from the rest. By ensuring you have the right players on the field, focusing on the right set of skills, you can create a finance organization that is cost efficient, innovative, and a leader in across your company.
Is your finance department operating as successfully as possible?
If you are worried that your department is not adding enough value, connect with a Paro team member and learn how a skilled financial professional can elevate strategic financial operations.