The finance department in many ways is the fuel that keeps a business running. Everything a company does needs to be based around its current budget, and there are always plenty of invoices to manage and staff to pay. However, the department often has a bigger role to play in a firm than this, and modern CFOs have increasing demands placed on them.
In many cases, finance is expected to be at the forefront of the business decision-making process, which might require you to rethink how the department operates. Here are three tips you can use to make your finance department more efficient, effective and successful, while keeping up with what’s needed of you.
1. Think big
If your finance department is expected to be at the heart of how the overall firm is run, you need to think beyond monthly budgets and paying invoices. Accenture research has found that 77% of CFOs believe driving business-wide operational transformation is part of their role, while 81% see identifying and targeting areas of new value across the business as one of their main responsibilities.
These might seem like huge challenges, but really all it means is thinking about the bigger picture. Try to integrate this into everything you do; remember, you’re the beating heart of the company. Take the necessary time to think about how the work your department does integrates with everything else, and keep an eye out for processes that could be changed to better facilitate this.
2. Automate where possible
Advances in technology have always helped businesses to become more efficient, and the increase in effective automation in the last few years is no different. Many finance department processes can easily be automated, and more complicated ones can be included over time once they’ve been standardized.
Gartner estimates this will be the norm for around three-quarters of finance departments by 2020, and a CapGemini report estimates this will add $512 billion to the global revenue of the financial sector. It’s even thought that automation could cut costs by as much as 75%, so it should be clear this is a good option to improve how your department operates.
3. Use data and analytics
The world runs on data, and your department probably generates an astonishing amount of it. With analytics, you can put all this information to use to make yourself more effective. Financial data is one of the best sources of information for predicting future events, and it can be used effectively to make firm-wide decisions.
This is becoming increasingly important in order to maintain competitiveness. Firms’ spending on analytics increased by 50% between 2015 and 2017, and Gartner estimates the number of finance departments deploying advanced analytics will double between 2018 and 2021. Failing to keep up with this trend could leave your company falling behind its peers.