Goal setting occurs every year for leaders and their respective teams across all areas of an organization. Technical enhancements, process improvements, training, etc. are all typical goal topics which definitely deserve their place on the priority list. However, special consideration should be given to goals that require collaboration between teams within the organization. Finance and IT are two such groups that continuously rely on each other to drive success , and this is not likely to change. In fact, with all the challenges businesses have faced in the past couple of years, goal alignment and collaboration between these groups is more critical than ever. Continue reading below as we discuss three critical areas Finance and IT leaders should place their focus for collaboration.
Prioritize Agility in Order to Enhance Ability
One of the key things Finance and IT leaders have learned from the Covid-19 crisis is the importance of being able to evaluate, adjust, and respond quickly. In the early days of the crisis, organizations across almost all industries were scrambling to adjust financial forecasts almost on a daily basis as new information became available.
Additionally, it wasn’t simply the need to adjust the forecasts… Finance leaders were asking their teams to respond quicker than ever before. The need for speed and accuracy put a significant strain on many organizations’ forecasting processes. Some were simply not built to keep up with the pace. This resulted in a shift in thinking… in an increased importance on and usage of strategic and scenario planning. In fact, according to the 2020 Value of EPM survey by Oracle, 88% of organizations said that scenario planning usage was increased due to the impact of Covid-19.
Also, Oracle saw an increase of 34% of Oracle Cloud EPM customers using predictive planning. Never before have we seen such a jump in the importance placed on these types of tools. It leaves no doubt that speed and accuracy are more crucial than ever before for the ability of organizations to provide answers in a rapidly changing landscape. But how can Finance and IT leaders achieve become more agile by increasing speed and accuracy?
One answer lies in the performance management tools they utilize. According to the survey, organizations who adopted Oracle EPM Cloud solutions experienced a reduction of 56% fewer days in the planning process overall, a 31% reduction in time performing data gathering activities, and a 44% boost in their forecast accuracy. Significant improvements demonstrate the value of modern EPM solutions. A large percentage, 85% to be exact, the survey said they received more value by being in the cloud during the pandemic.
Explore key considerations, integrating the cloud with legacy applications and challenges of current cloud implementations.
Another answer is in the data itself. With 99% of surveyed Finance leaders stating that real-time data is critical to how they respond to crises, the inclusion of real-time data into the planning process should be a key consideration for goal alignment between Finance and IT. Categorizing and prioritizing the specific data required is a great place to start with collaboration. Keep in mind that producing real-time, or near real-time reporting is only achievable through sophisticated technology. Special consideration to solutions that can handle frequent data loading and aggregation should be at the forefront of the discussions surrounding software solutions.
Effective Communication Leads to Better Integration
The desire to enhance the capabilities of the Finance community with better tools and better data will require IT leaders to reevaluate integrations across the enterprise. This undoubtedly requires the involvement of many people. In order to ensure alignment to the needs of the Finance community, clear and concise communication with systems architects is absolutely critical. This requires Finance and IT leaders to be in tune with one another. And that starts with leaders collaborating to establish a vision for the future state of their EPM platform. Once the vision is established, it’s critical that it be effectively communicated to all the stakeholders.
The ability of an organization to bring a vision to reality is centered on the integration of not only technology but people as well. And people need to be communicated to in a manner that empowers them to implement that vision. In fact, effective communication is so critical to the success of people and projects that, according to the PMI, that 56% of at-risk project dollars can be attributed to ineffective communication. Additionally, one out of five projects fails due to poor communication. But how do Finance and IT leaders reduce this risk?
The answer lies within the leaders themselves. They must develop solid communication channels and plans. They must also take the responsibility of owning and executing the communication plan. And lastly, they must know when to ask for help before communication becomes an issue. Not an easy task, but tips and strategies for effective communication are plentiful (here is a highly informative post that can help).
Open Mindset to Accelerate the Financial Close
One of the most recurring hectic times for any organization is when it comes to the financial closing of the books. Talk to anyone involved in this process about pain points and you are likely to get an earful. There are so many activities occurring during this time that it can be made more challenging if accounting and finance experts are using archaic/manual processes and systems.
Sometimes simply keeping track of “who is doing what, and when” is even a challenge. Add in the fact that most organizations are now operating in a remote manner, and it’s not hard to understand why coordination is so important. It’s not uncommon to hear stories of how normally routine and low-effort tasks, such as account reconciliations, has become challenging over the past couple of years. Couple this with the need for organizations to complete the close quicker than ever before, and it’s easy to see that business users absolutely need modern tools to empower them to execute and accelerate the close processes.
Leaders need to be open to examining each and every process that is involved in the close in order to maximize potential savings. The Covid-19 crisis has forced many organizations to do just this. For those who have addressed the challenges with Oracle EPM solutions, 84% reduced the number of days to close per cycle, 58% spent less time to simply produce management reporting, and 62% eliminated non-critical tasks and reduced their costs (click here for these statistics and more).
Partner to Find the Right Partner
Many times organizations discover that their teams need help in turning the shared vision into reality. Searching for that help can be a significant endeavor in itself, and one that should be addressed by Finance and IT leaders partnering in the search. Conversations between leaders about the desired qualities of an external partner should be had prior to the commencement of the search, because even if there is alignment on the above topics, choosing the wrong partner can eliminate the ability to succeed.
At Perficient, we continually look for ways to champion and challenge our talented workforce with interesting projects for high-profile clients, encourage personal and professional growth through training and mentoring, and celebrate our people-oriented culture and the innovative ways they serve Perficient and the community.