Posted: May 03, 2019 5 min. read

Organise your finance function, or it will organise you!

For many of us, tomorrow is often the busiest day of the week.  We put off the urgent and important, mundane and unproductive, and the complicated and nuisance, in the hope it will sort itself out or someone else will do it.

 

Many finance functions use workarounds, manual processes and unfit systems and ways of working to deliver their day-to-day and longer-term duties.  However, these broken areas typically prevent organisations from reaching their true potential. 

 

So this is why our first blog looks at the key things you must do to achieve greater impact from your finance function - now and in the future.

 

Where are we now? Where do we need to be?
 

The benefits of an organised finance function are likely clear to you without even talking about people, processes, and systems or against the current buzz terms of “the future of finance” and “finance 4.0”.

When it comes to reorganising your finance function, you can apply a number of key principles to determine where you are now, and where you need to be. 

 

Processes 
 

Standardising, optimising or automating processes can free up time from manual and routine processes and activities, and help focus your team’s attention on more value adding areas. Standardised processes also remove people dependency and means you have less risk when team members leave!

 

However, before making any changes, consider the following:  

  1. Where should finance processes be executed and who is responsible for what?
  2. What processes should be standardised, optimised and automated?
  3. How will risks be controlled and managed?

 

Systems
 

The perennial problem area for many finance functions is systems. Love or hate them, the use of the right systems in the right way can truly enable the finance function, and the wider organisation. With the availability, flexibility, increasing use and reducing ownership costs of systems, finance functions can reform how they process, analyse, report and make decisions.

 

However, systems updates or changes can often be a costly and time-consuming exercise, so ask the following questions: 

  1. What enabling systems are required to support finance?
  2. What does the finance function and organisation need the system to do (or not do)?
  3. How will finance systems interact with other systems in the organisation?
 
Structures
 

The perception of the finance function as some “back office support unit” has often been one of the challenges to be overcome when trying to achieve a greater impact. However, today there are a number of traditional and non-traditional structural options, many of which can be further enabled with the correct use of systems and the deployment of the right team. Shared Service Centres, Global Business Services centres, outsourcing, managed services and combinations of all of these and more, are now available to support how finance is organised and delivered.

Before taking the plunge, ask the following:  

  1. How is the finance function to be structured?
  2. Where should people be based?
  3. How will the finance function interact with the wider organisation (and vice versa)?
  4. How will transactional, technical and other value adding activities be conducted, where, how and by who?

 

Governance
 

For many finance functions, governance is only considered in terms of their risk management, tax and regulatory compliance duties. While these areas are vital for a successful finance function, there is also a wider duty of stewardship that the function has to itself, and the wider organisation.  

Some questions to ask: 

  1. What is the vision and strategy for finance?
  2. What role will finance play in the business?
  3. Who are our stakeholders and customers?
  4. What are their management information and decision support requirements?

The benefits of organising your finance function properly and making it fit for purpose are clear, and should be one of the key activities before deciding on the latest system or hiring more team members. A properly organised finance function can certainly provide the boost needed to make a greater impact.

More about the author

Will Barnes

Will Barnes

Director, Deloitte Private

Will recently joined Deloitte Private’s Commercial Advisory team as lead of Finance Function Advisory in Melbourne. He brings over 17 years’ experience in professional services including acting previo