Dealing with unexpected events is the new normal for accounting and finance managers. The ability to quickly respond to unanticipated developments can determine whether your team — and company — struggles or succeeds.
New technology, digital connectivity, disruptive business models, regulatory changes, and mergers and acquisitions present unexpected challenges to the form and function of finance and accounting teams. Business demands can be difficult to predict from quarter to quarter, with sudden workload spikes stressing both staff and processes alike.
The key to dealing with any major event is having a response plan before the brunt of the storm hits. This mitigates the potential disruption that could threaten an organization’s operational efficiency — issues that could range from integrating accounts payable and receivable processes following an acquisition to reviewing compliance controls for new regulatory requirements to rehauling an enterprise resource planning (ERP) system.
Preparing for a rapid deployment
The current business environment puts a premium on the ability to rapidly respond to any circumstance. As part of the new labor model for the digital age, firms work with a flexible workforce comprised of core full-time employees, interim and project professionals, and on-demand consultants. This helps organizations ensure that change events become a growth opportunity rather than a competitive disadvantage.
Quickly scaling resources up (or down) based on workload or project demands is an imperative when confronted by unexpected events. An effective response requires much more than simply increasing the quantity of resources assigned to address a major new initiative.
These transitions demand experienced staff who possess a specific set of skills blending technological know-how, functional expertise and soft skills that allow for seamless integration with current employees. But finding and hiring specialized professionals like business analysts for a digital transformation initiative or tech-savvy finance professionals to support an ERP implementation can be a daunting challenge.
In one recent case, a manufacturing company was faced with refining its disclosures for the new revenue recognition standard, which required reviewing, translating and abstracting thousands of customer contracts. It necessitated an immediate infusion of technical accounting expertise, fluency in multiple languages and project-management skills — a challenging set of requirements to fulfill in the best of circumstances, much less on a tight deadline. Realizing it needed help, the company utilized a managed business services solution to quickly and efficiently assemble a team of professionals to fulfill its unique requirements.
Delivering a resourceful response
Faced with the logistical realities of locating and acquiring skilled talent, many companies are turning to external service providers to fulfill their flexible staffing needs. But building a long-term relationship that consistently and reliably delivers the necessary solutions for your business is contingent on finding a trusted resource. The service provider works to thoroughly acquaint itself with the business needs and culture of a company, establish relationships with key people in the organization, and stay abreast of its shifting business demands and needs.
If your organization prefers to outsource an entire business process or more comprehensively address a demanding circumstance, a managed services provider can handle the required planning, onboarding, scheduling, training and quality control functions. The firm can draw from its large, experienced, vetted talent pool to assemble custom-tailored teams of professionals able to come in and deal with any eventuality or need.
Building a long-term relationship with an experienced and knowledgeable external service provider is an imperative in today’s fast-shifting competitive landscape. The familiarity and mutual understanding that arises from continuous collaboration can turn handling the unexpected into an inherent business process, rather than a crippling and costly disruption.
Author: Tim Hird is the executive director of Robert Half Management Resources, the premier provider of senior-level accounting, finance and business systems professionals to supplement companies' project and interim staffing needs. The company has more than 140 locations worldwide and offers assistance to business leaders and consultants at roberthalf.com/management-resources.