Well done! You’ve finally taken the plunge and your finance function are journeying away from the spreadsheets.
Certainly, the era of the spreadsheet is over. Accessing accurate data in a flash is becoming increasingly important to organisations who wish to remain competitive. And without streamlined technology, you and your finance team can’t deliver.
Transforming your spreadsheets into a modernised finance function is a journey though. It takes time.
You’ve started on that journey – you’ve bought your ticket, packed your bags and are in the air. But what’s next? How do you get the plane to touch down again and deliver a successful transformation project?
There are some classic sticking points where financial modernisation projects can be held up. We’ve helped many organisations navigate smoothly past them to deliver a seamless modernisation transition.
So how can you avoid these pitfalls?
Here are some helpful hints to help you along your financial modernisation journey from a handful of Bistech customers:
Number 1: Map it all out
Setting out without a map can be treacherous. That’s why this must be the first step on your journey to financial modernisation.
Get your teams together and map out exactly what you need. Work out where you can streamline and plan for automation.
Automate as much as you can.
Automation is the first step to financial modernisation. It does away with manual analysis and delivers significantly more accurate data, as well as paving the way for more complex financial modernisation.
Figuring out how to step away from the spreadsheets and what to automate is complex. Not least because there is usually a human component to the work.
Make the transition as smooth as possible for your team by investigating automation technology and tools that allow your teams to work with familiar applications.
Plan for data.
The next step is data-based planning. Coupled with automation, data-based planning allows you to run scenarios based on speculative input.
These scenarios hand you powerful insights to present to the board, helping you become a true strategic partner in the business.
One of our clients, Allianz Worldwide Partners, explains how data-based planning, an outcome of our work to modernise their finance function, has positively impacted their organisation:
“We embraced more modern analytics technology. This meant monthly and quarterly rolling forecasts. At present we get revenue forecasts monthly and are working towards monthly expenses forecasts. Now, the Asia Pacific CFO can cut and slice his data as much as he wants, and everything is automatically updated.”
Ian Mitchell, Regional Head of Planning and Controlling – Asia Pacific at Allianz Worldwide Partners
Feeling stuck in your financial modernisation journey?
Go back to your map to figure out what’s next.
Didn’t map it out in the first place?
Hit pause on the project and get everyone in a room ASAP.
Number 2: Invest time in research
Change is only as successful as the communication that takes place around it.
So take the time to do your research and have conversations with your team and other business units.
Ian Mitchell from Allianz Worldwide Partners advises getting involved in business workshops and sending members of the finance team along. That way you and your team will understand what the business units want and need in terms of reporting and finance function support from the very beginning.
Plus, you’ll garner the business units’ buy in to the project.
Midway through your transformation journey? Business units wanting to suddenly hitch a ride with new requests?
Take stock and reevaluate.
Were those business units consulted originally? Will it derail the whole project to incorporate them? Are their requests worthwhile for other business units and the organisation as a whole?
It’s frustrating to have to double back, but if you haven’t invested that research time to begin with, it will keep happening. So it’s best to stop now and go back to the research stage.
Number 3: Manage the change
Everyone resists change to some extent.
And you need to be prepared for this resistance – and again, communication is key.
Greg Affleck, Group Financial Controller, Corporate at ALS Limited, says:
“We had to make judgment calls in terms of the way that the system needed to be structured to facilitate our reporting needs. From a human capital side of things, the way we rolled out the consolidation was methodically, entity by entity, not through one big bang. This worked well for us – we rolled it out over 12 months.”
Engagement levels low? Teams not responding or holding up the project?
Re-look at your change management strategy or, if you don’t have one in place, talk to an experienced strategic partner, like us.
We’ve helped many organisations to modernise their finance functions and have stepped in midway through the journey many times.
Often a lack of engagement signals an apathy toward the project. The teams need to be continually updated or they’ll drop off the journey bandwagon and hold things up for you, often over the smallest of details.
Don’t let your project be derailed by a lack of communication or understanding of its significance to the wider organisation.
Number 4: Get leaders to lead
For transition to be successful, employees need to see the organisation’s leadership is fully engaged.
Duncan McInerney, Business Intelligence & Analytics Manager for Finance at Auto & General, suggests aligning the project to a business KPI and arranging workshops with different prototypes, led by the leadership team. That way, everyone has input and can see the leadership team are leading the charge.
Feel like you’re pushing on solo?
Lacking support from across the organisation?
Consider how involved the leadership team is – and not just the finance leaders, but managers from across the organisation.
Visible leadership and defined alignment to business outcomes will push the project along a much smoother path.
Financial modernisation is a complex undertaking. You’re already on the journey and we don’t want you to regret your decision!
Download our state of play report into financial modernisation to read more about how some of Australia’s leading blue-chip brands transformed their finance function.