To stay on top of the accounting and finance industry, you must be constantly adapting your game, adopting new technologies and optimising your efficiency. We have devised 12 key actionable insights – use this as your cheat sheet, and learn how to level up as a finance professional.
These observations are part of our joint research report with the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) and Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand (Chartered Accountants ANZ), Transformational Journeys: Finance and the Agile Organisation.
Access the full research report for more insights, including discussions on agile working, value cases and more.
To help you navigate, I have included diagrams covering each section of the tips: strategic, knowledge and operational.
If you want to explore any of these insights further, the far right columns of the diagrams include the relevant section numbers of the report. There you will find more information on each topic.
So, let’s begin with some strategic tips.
Finance has to transform its role before it can play an effective role in organisational transformation
If you want to influence a transformation, the entire finance department needs to become predictive and sure of its role within the business.
Without this change, accounting and finance teams won’t be exerting themselves to their full effectiveness.
Focus on purpose and customer value when driving transformation
This is an important shift to implement in your organisation.
Finance departments need to prioritise driving management of external stakeholders, customer experiences and sustainability.
Transformation is a continuous process
You shouldn’t expect an end point. Transformation isn’t a project; it should be seen as a tool in your workbench. If this tool is used regularly, you will be able to stay relevant and efficient with finance function.
For transformation to succeed, executives must demonstrate the necessary mindset for continuous change and commit to experimentation.
Strong leadership and culture are vital in a successful transformation
This one speaks for itself – strong leadership and culture are important generally, but become crucial when undertaking transformation.
Executives, finance leaders and management need to collectively create and support an organisational culture for their company, and it MUST facilitate constant evolution.
Programmes are becoming more important than projects
This shift marks a change in the way that finance transformation should be viewed. It is a process, and should not be hampered by the fixed deadlines and temporality associated with projects.
To organise this appropriately, finance leaders should execute strategic, ongoing alignment when planning and implementing transformation.
Next up, let’s go into some tips on knowledge.
Business cases are now value driven not just cost driven, incorporating ESG goals
The zeitgeist of the 2020s has already been made abundantly clear: environmentally friendly is the only way forward. This is not limited to certain industries, and should be understood in all areas of business.
ESG goals have become vital to finance planning. The traditional business case is outmoded, and value cases are increasingly popular – don’t get left behind!
Transformation is a business-led activity, not technology-led
Transformation doesn’t stop at digitisation. It is much bigger than that, and involves multiple areas of a business.
For this reason, agility is key. Developing new agile business models should be a priority for accounting and finance leaders looking to transform their operating model.
Pace of technology change will not slow, nor will organisational change
When implementing a transformation, you must understand that improving your finance processes and teams isn’t an over and done with task.
The industry is constantly changing. This means your finance department should do the same. As new technology is released, and new ways of working are developed, you need to stay agile enough to adapt.
Skills in technology and data are essential as are innovation and creativity
Innovative and creative skill sets are undoubtedly still important, but a diverse understanding of the industry is becoming increasingly valuable as technology evolves.
I can’t overstate the value of upskilling. I myself try to develop my skills with technology and data wherever I can. Finance teams can really benefit from relevant skill building programmes, which in turn can ease the process of transformation.
Finally, let’s explore some operational tips.
Effective use of data by people and processes is the key to organisational transformation
If you want to optimise your efficiency, you need to be using data to inform and develop your finance processes.
Data is one of the most valuable resources you can master. The fundamentals of data strategy can benefit you massively once you understand how they can relate to finance transformation, and how they can provide you with actionable insights.
Not all projects are agile; projects form portfolios
Agility is an innovative way to work, but it isn’t a requirement for every action you take. Some projects need a different approach.
Finance organizations need to ensure programme level governance, and not neglect risk management of transformation.
Cloud is an enabler to transform, not an end goal
Cloud technology solutions are fast growing and extremely beneficial. This isn’t limited to finance organizations; everyone can benefit from the flexibility they can provide.
However, despite the importance of embracing new business models and technologies, you must remain in control. Remember: transformation is a process.
Where to go next
So, those were the 12 actionable insights devised in the report. Hopefully these will inspire you to optimise your role as an accounting and finance professional.
If any tip in particular has inspired you to learn more, you can refer to the section number in the relevant diagram to explore further information on the topic.
To access the full report on Transformational Journeys: Finance and the Agile Organisation, please click on the button below.