We’ll do this by considering the following collection of quotes. Some have been garnered from our recent research report, Transformational Journeys: Finance And The Agile Organisation, and some are from members of our accounting and finance community.
By thinking about these quotes, we can explore the relationships between agile working and other elements of finance function, such as technology, projects and tradition.
To start, we will delve into agility and technology, and how together they affect transformation.
“Transformation is a business, not technology, led activity”
As this quote from the research report puts so succinctly, transformation is a business-driven activity that is supported by technology and data. When initiatives are driven by a technology that’s searching for a business issue to address, they’re generally failures.
As finance professionals, it’s important to be adaptive in the ways of working that support transformational change, recognising the impact on people and processes. The new business models that derive from these initiatives are flexible and adaptable.
“Skills in technology and data are essential, as are innovation and creativity”
Given the rate of change, having skills in technology and data are essential – but for the finance and accountancy professional who is seeking to be involved in transformation, innovation and creativity skills are equally important.
For finance professionals to play their full role, they need to master innovation and creativity alongside their other essential skills. As you can see in this table on the elements of an organisation that will change with a digital transformation, transforming the structure of procedure models leads to a focus on agility and creativity, which proves the relationship between the two.
“Not all projects are agile; projects form portfolios”
It’s easy to assume that all transformation initiatives are agile. This is not always the case. Organisations still need to undertake larger scale initiatives that may follow variants of the traditional project lifecycle – but finance professionals need to be flexible and adaptable in how they contribute to these projects.
They must understand the need to be adaptable as initiative approaches flex, and recognise that governance needs to be undertaken at many levels to actively support these processes.
The focus on agility has grown – but exactly how much?
Tagetik recently asked a sample group this question:
“Thinking about the agility of the finance function within your organisation, to what extent do you agree or disagree with the following statement? ‘We view uncertainty in our market as an opportunity as we know we can respond quicker than competitors.’”
96% of those asked – and 100% of CFOs that were asked – agreed with this statement. This shows a marked shift in mindset from controller and scorekeeper to enabler and business partner.
Again, they were asked to what extent they agreed/disagreed with the following statement:
“We have a democratised view of data/information that allows finance colleagues to access and use all data sources, not just finance data.”
93% of those we asked, and once again the high stat of 98% of CFOs, agreed with this statement. This shows an extension of the traditional data set used by financial controllers and scorekeepers.
So, that research prompts a few questions, for me at least.
It does show that the finance community are stepping up to the agile plate, but I wonder, how far are they going?
The pandemic forced change upon many people and organisations, but are they now implementing an agile organisation or just playing at the edges?
And the final question I will leave you with is this:
Are the finance team transforming with agile ways of working, new extended reporting and planning and skills and talent, or do they not know what is possible and the high percentages just reflect a level of complacency?
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