Since I am charged with writing useful content for blogs I am often asked how I come up with the ideas for writing. Some undoubtedly believe, and naively I might add, that some magical force enables those of us who blog to have just the right words at the right time. Then through some word processing jujitsu the words flow onto the computer screen and arrange themselves in such a way as to grab the attention of others.
Further, those folks might believe that bloggers are somehow set apart from the rest of the workforce. They might believe bloggers are divinely chosen with an ability to synthesize meaning from thin air. Sadly, they would be very mistaken. Like with most things that take time and patience, to perfect blogging is not an art. It is simply an act, one of patience and initiative. The most important ingredient in blogging, and yes the hardest ingredient to find, is sitting down at the computer and typing. In more simplistic terms, it’s starting.
Starting is the hardest thing to do in nearly every practice. Whether it be an instrument, a sporting endeavor, or even amassing a fortune through real estate it takes practice. Blogging is a practice. So is Financial Transformation. There are so many disruptions, excuses, faux productivities, and diversions, that beginning a financial transformation within your organization can easily be delayed for months and even years. If you want to continue down that path only your boss can stop the delays. Sure it’s hard to get started when so many things push against starting but if you already have a road map then you have an opportunity for a jump start. And sometimes that’s all you need.
Six Steps to Financial Transformation
To jumpstart your financial transformation I would ask you to consider the following as sort of a checklist for readiness and immediate action. You want to always consider the processes, technology, integrations and of course the people in your Finance organization.
- First, you want to identify processes for improvement. This could be anything. An example is a monthly close. You can look at how you collect data or how you disseminate data. You want to look at how you determine the future of your chart of accounts.
- Second, determine where you want to be in the future. Put a stake in the ground for that point future and socialize the activities and tasks that would actually drive toward it.
- Third, regarding technology, there really aren’t a lot of technological considerations immediately especially if you are willing to embrace cloud applications (which by the way you should for many reasons which can be found in other blogs.) You may want to consider what browsers you use or what versions of browser. You may also want to look internally at what your mobile applications workforce policies are.
- Fourth, considering integrations: you want to identify all of your data sources and supporting systems. An example might be, “Are you getting your HR data from ADP or are you getting some revenue data or sales data from Salesforce?” You’ll also want to determine reporting requirements for all of your connected organizations, not just reports that you may develop internally for your Finance organization or for financial management but for any of the organization’s you might support.
- Fifth, you want to assess the current cleanliness of your segment data. What we find is that organizations often don’t have their data as clean as they would like it did before they start their transformation. That can certainly muddy the water for the organization as they try to move through quick implementations of new tools.
- Sixth, regarding people, you want to identify your stakeholders for integrations, technologies, and processes. You want to make sure that if your Board of Directors need to be pulled into the loop that they are. Your Sales VP is definitely going to have some say in how certain financial numbers are produced. And of course your CIO, along with every other leader of the organization, is going to want to weigh in on where you are headed.
Some immediate actions you might want to take are the following:
- You want to create example by-process of what you want to become.
- You want to straighten out your chart of accounts before you implement.
- Clean up your data as a separate connected project.
- You want to alert IT of your intentions.
- Map out the data relationships between systems that are currently in or coming into your organization. (this alone will reduce the adoption cycle of any new tool by at least 10 percent.)
- Begin capturing stakeholder expectations for your financial system transformation. There’s always going to be a stakeholders inside and outside of Finance
In conclusion, for your jumpstart I will leave you with three thoughts and specific call to action:
- Consider every task within Finance as an opportunity for positive transformation.
- Forge alliances inside and outside of Finance in order to investigate those areas toward successful change.
- Open your mind to even the smallest innovation, whether it be changing one report or actually changing an entire process of how you source data.
Taking it Further: Finance’s EPM Playbook
As 2017 rapidly approaches, the time to act is now if you want to take control of an organization, becoming the strategic leader, disruptor, and business partner that your company needs and deserves. Learn more about how you can transform your business by downloading the Wipfli/Brittenford Whitepaper, Finance’s EPM Playbook: Leveraging World Class Enterprise Performance Management to learn about the demands and next steps.