Three ways to optimise the finance function during COVID-19
Disruption during this time is a given. People are dealing with unprecedented changes in both their personal and professional lives.
While we navigate this uncertain storm, it’s important to find areas of your business that can create positive returns.
In many ways, finance functions can be easily set up for a work from home (WFH) environment, but only if you’re making cloud technologies, digitisation, and automation part of your fintech stack. Accounting is rule-based, accounts payable requires timely resolutions, and payroll follows a strict schedule so that everyone is paid on time. The finance industry is extremely tactical, but many companies are hindered by crucial tasks that are still manual and time-consuming. In these times, it’s essential to adapt to a new way of working to save time and scale with limited resources.
Companies across the world need to lean into managing finance in our new, remote environment by pivoting smartly, and wherever they can. The finance processes to immediately implement include:
1. Expand company-wide and team communications
A lot is going on in the world right now, and communication, from both a planning and strategy perspective, should be a top priority. Designating work from home collaboration best practices is the first step. The second is designating more frequent check-ins.
Daily stand-ups with your team, including the controller, broader FP&A members, and the CEO is imperative for effective communication around tasks and priorities. Ensuring that your team understands why specific tasks are being prioritised is essential in streamlining your current operations. Discover a way to clearly share information and find a broader perspective, especially since you’re not seeing everyone as frequently as you would in the office.
2. Re-evaluate contingency plans & strategies
Every financial leader should be evaluating their 2020 and 2021 plans and adjusting them for the potential impact of increased market uncertainty.
Scenario planning is vital. Building models that can adjust to various situations is imperative for future-proofing your business for success. One way to track and manage these trends is through business insights tools. These solutions monitor designated key performance indicators (KPIs) in real-time to see any yellow or red flags in the business.
Especially in times of disruption, being able to have real-time analytics around a couple of key metrics will increase the efficiency of decision-making and help to create consensus and alignment. Complete, real-time data is crucial during times of disruption.
If you don’t have efficient business insights tools, a proper dashboard, and visible ways to look at your KPIs, it’s hard to find real-time, strategic solutions when faced with issues that are exposed in the data. With rapid, constant changes in this kind of environment, you’re doing yourself a disservice if you don’t reassess your financial plans to designate cost savings and find better solutions for the future.
3. Build a tech stack that is optimised for the changing workforce
Setting up a financial tech stack that is scalable for your company is one of the most important initiatives for a financial leader.
During this time, take a step back and truly evaluate your current processes. In order to adapt to a new, remote workforce, ensure that your tech stack solutions are:
- 100% cloud-based and allow 24/7 access for your finance team
- Have strong financial controls so that WFH does not expose your company to greater fraud, tax, regulatory, and audit risk. Manual processes, for example, paper-based invoice approvals and check writing, are inherently risky, especially when being performed away from a controlled office.
- 100% digital and logged approval workflows with AI-based routing
- Have multi-subsidiary capabilities that allow a distributed organization across various geographies to continue to function as normal
You can’t do everything at once as resources are limited. Evaluate your financial processes and move forward to reduce risk in areas that are the most manual or most inefficient. With that time saved, your team can tackle other projects.
Also, make sure that you’re investing in a stable financial infrastructure. Depending on your business, a foundation for your tech stack could include a cloud ERP, accounts payable automation, a billing system, a financial planning tool, a cloud commissions system, an advanced payroll tool, a cap table management system, and BI tools. Being able to access and approve everything digitally is a necessity from a functionality standpoint. Partnering with technology solutions that you can count on is a necessity strategically.
Moving forward, together
It’s a fact, there’s a lot of growing concern and uncertainty right now. It’s important to take time to pause and assess.
Re-plan and re-strategise for the worst-case scenario, take decisive action, and continue to build as you see KPIs and other processes withstand the crisis.
A disrupted environment is where companies who are disciplined in their spending see the most success. Look for opportunities for advancement that comes from modifying your plans and strategies. Well-run companies think about the business in a way that capitalises on the future while evaluating what they’re executing today.
Great companies are built out of the dust that settles from big economic downturns. Together, we will find the right ways to weather the storm.