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Is Your Finance Team Adding Value? Three signs that it is.

by Michael Burdick, on Jun 5, 2018

successful business

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.

Finance leaders, when leveraged properly, 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 the traditional perception of their role in compliance and reporting. These valuable team members struggle to create change and drive efficiencies on a larger scale. 

Related: Not Your Parents' Workplace: Change Your Mindset, Change Your Business

Understanding the obstacles finance teams face

The finance department 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 reports on-demand when the requests come in from upper management. It's a role ripe for error—and failure. While delivering deep insight is certainly within the purview of the finance department, shifting gears in real-time and manually adjusting internal processes for one-off reports and quickly become a fulltime job in and of itself.  

According to Strategic Finance, studies show that while nearly 80% of controllers believe that the finance function adds a great deal of value to the organization, 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 financial departments, understanding how these team members are driving best practices across the organization, and empowering the finance department to share this expertise.

Related: 5 Critical Soft Skills for Virtual CFOs

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3 Signs of Highly-Successful Finance Departments

1. Strategic Thinking

The evolving role of the financial 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 financial team—with the right mindset—is essential in taking traditional finance roles to the next level.

2. Tech Savvy

Key stakeholders in your financial department need the right technology tools and the skills to wield them. Across industries, “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. When examining how organizations are staffed, “top performers see value in taking a lean approach to processes, looking beyond systems to foster better understanding of user needs and to reduce waste in the form of errors or duplicative work. Some organizations still spend too much time on billing and management reporting, for example, two areas that could be helped greatly by automation.” 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 functionsbookkeeping and running reportswill 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.

Related: How to help your finance team through a technology transition

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.

Related: How Paro helped two musicians finance their path into new cities

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