Typically in finance we have a particular type of cadence. This cadence is largely consistent across different organisations no matter what the industry you support. We are likely to have some or all of these:
Quarterly reporting and forecasting,
Half year reporting (if listed),
Annual statutory reporting and tax filing (we all have this one),
Annual budget process and
Longer range strategic planning for 3 to 5 years.
Now that's a pretty full dance card if you ask me.
So how do we keep up with all those requirements whilst making sure that we are not just hitting the deadlines but actually accelerating the value that we add to the business
The short answer is the above is not negotiable therefore the value that we add to the business becomes a nice to have, in a world where this just isnt good enough.
Not meeting the reporting requirements to regulators, the board, investors is highly problematic.
So in typical traditional finance fashion the value we add to the business is de-prioritised ahead of the compliance-related requirements of keeping the lights on.
Therefore as a result the finance cadence is certainly not accelerating if anything it's slowing down as the requirements become more arduous and we are expected to do more with less (staff - cost cutting), without the much needed investment in systems and processes.
So embracing change and transformation through technology becomes increasingly more difficult as we just strugg to keep up with the requirements we have to today, let alone embrace something new and undergo a much needed transformation.
Where to start (without a big price tag)?
1. Excel is not dead!
It is also the source of a lot of waste, errors and frankly rusty chains and squeaky wheels affecting our cadence.
But a large scale transformation to remove the spreadsheet also doesn't work.
It doesn't allow us to be nimble and do proper modelling with scenarios and simulations (Monte Carlo).
So to get started, simply get started small.
Look to improve and streamline Excel within Excel and outside with tools that embrace it, not remove it.
I removed 75% of my efforts using these tools.
The tools are here now.
Surprisingly these tools are not expensive.
There is a huge problem with the expensive enterprise solutions. The more expensive it is the more valuable people believe they will be.
Not to mention the cost of maintenance and specialists consultants for that software. Few enable the team to truly self serve.
Model Citizn is software agnostic, we find the best solutions for the problem.
2. Diagnose the problem and re-train your staff to use their existing tools better.
Be careful and selective what tools you bring in, don't just follow the industry magic quadrant everyone else is following.
Some tools might not suit your context.
Context is key!
Technology is only a tool, its not a miracle cure for thinking!
It’s an enabler of change, not a driver of change.
People drive change and need to be trained how to do this change, if they dont know already (most don’t).
3. Focus on automation to drive efficiencies. Start small and expand.
One of the biggest frustrations I come across is finance just not having the time to implement or play with new tools.
The old chicken and egg problem.
But at the same time there are actually tools and technology that can automate a lot of the mundane work but this costs money and of course more time, no to mention the elephant in the room which is job security when starting this process.
You have to trust the process and management but also lead a team that embraces change and sees it as a path to new careers be that inside your company or outside.
We are all going to have to change at some stage or another, we simply cannot continue as we are today.
If you want to learn more in 2019 and also understand how you can upskill in FM be sure to reach out to us or stay tuned.
I encourage you to also take a peak at my past articles on financial modeling which is the foundation of business decision making, planning and forecasting.
We have also redesigned our website to help you along your journey of levelling up in this space.
We will continue to discuss this topic and you can click to follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn or subscribe to our short but sweet newsletter.
Be sure to check out our pods and video page.
Here are also some past blogs that might be of interest.
Lance Rubin is the Founder of Model Citizn, partner of theOutperformer, approved training provider to the Financial Modeling Institute and Group CFO for SequelCFO.
I have more than 20 years of combined experience working in model audit, investment banking, corporate finance, finance business partner and Fintech CFO.
Organisations I have worked with include PwC, KPMG, National Australia Bank, Investec Bank and Banjo small business lender.