Whether your Finance function is team of two or a team of twenty, a strong finance team is at the centre of every successful business. We have seen so many business leaders look at their finance functions and make statements such as ‘it looks to be overstaffed’ or ‘we are not getting the best value for the business’ and yet, in the majority of cases these statements are not supported by data.
This is not to say these statements are wrong but without a clear strategy and a drive to constantly evolve the function to support and enable the ever-increasing pace of business change, we have also seen incorrect decisions being made, so it is vital to get any finance transformation right. Any business leader who is not constantly driving to optimise the cost and efficiency of their business would arguably not be doing their job and therefore the role of the finance function to drive business value increasingly becomes more important.
From what we have seen, some key themes driving change for the modern finance function include:
Faster Close: In most cases this is at the top of every business leaders agenda and rightly so. It is vitally important that the Board knows how the business is performing but in order to act on that information and effect change as required, less time must be spent on the mechanics of the reporting cycle and more on the finance function providing support and a true business partnering approach.
Budgeting: Many organisations still budget on the basis of costs for the current period plus a percentage for inflation equates to next years budget. For the modern finance function to add value for the business this concept needs to be challenged. Zero-based budgeting (ZBB), whilst not a new concept, is a method of budgeting in which all business expenses must be justified by the budget responsible manager. In other words, every function within an organisation starts from a ‘zero base’ and is analysed based on its needs. The implementation of ‘zero base’ thinking can have a significant impact on the entire business.
Structure: Does your current finance function structure meet the ever-changing needs of your business? To deliver a true partnering concept thus driving efficiency and increasing value you may need to reconsider the traditional approach to the structure of the finance function and look at federated teams by operational business unit or product.
Technology: Delivery of business critical Finance applications via the cloud is becoming more commonplace replacing the more traditional finance Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems. Whatever your need or business size it is important that you have the right system for your business and that the cost of ownership is minimised and yet the system is aligned to your finance strategy.
Automation: Whether we are talking about controls or the processing of financial information, there is still a high degree of manual input in many organisations. In order to improve efficiency and create time for real added value activities and a partnering approach there needs to be a move towards greater automation.
We can help you transform and succeed in all of these area’s whether it developing the strategy or implementing the change required to deliver that strategy.
We have worked with great entrepreneurial minds from which come many idea’s and whilst each and every idea is great in the sense it generates the basis for a great debate, not all are worthy of progressing beyond the Board room. A good business case takes your idea and develops it in to a clear, robust and measurable plan providing the numbers and the assurance that your idea is not only a good one, but a good one that will add value to your business and perhaps more importantly, in can do so within the time frame which you are targeting. In summary, the business case is the foundation for an idea to become an informed decision to progress beyond the Board room.