The finance team of the future

The business world has changed - why hasn't your finance team?

If you’re only using your finance team for compliance, you’re missing out on a raft of benefits. It’s time for a shift in the way you look at your finance function. Let’s find out more.

Shifting the focus of your finance team

In most cases, people who are not in the finance function see finance as a money pit. To outsiders, finance is not a profit driver for the company. It doesn’t add value. Instead, it’s a necessary evil, measuring the business’ performance and ensuring it stays on the right side of compliance. In fact, if everything is running smoothly in a company, you shouldn’t even notice the finance function. 

As finance revolutionaries, we don’t like this perception. However, in many companies, it’s hard to argue with it. Companies are happy for their finance functions to stay in the shadows. The problem is, they are not getting their finance team to fulfil their potential.

The finance function should be the brain of the business. After all, they have access to all the information, figures, operations, and business strategy. They are the best-placed people in the company to focus on insights, ultimately leading to better business decisions. In the finance team of the future, finance will provide the right nuggets of information at the right time that enable leaders to pull the right business levers.

A recent article by McKinsey spelt out how the finance team of the future can improve the way it provides insights.

  • Clearer – rather than hiding behind jargon, finance teams needs to communicate insight without hedging their bets. For example, why are there shortfalls against expected numbers? What is the context and the underlying factors behind underperformance?
  • Faster – the management needs to act decisively to stay ahead of the competition. When the finance team discovers something essential, they must communicate it straight away. Don’t wait for the next report.
  • Richer – finance should also draw on a wider variety of data sources, not just company figures. By bringing external sources into their workflow, finance teams can identify ways to improve performance. Broader data also helps guard against unexpected shocks and black swan events such as the Coronavirus pandemic.

Introducing the FinOps Manager

The finance function of the future requires a new team member – the FinOps Manager.

If the finance function is to become the company’s brain, creating insights that drive the company forward, you need someone with the right skills. You need someone with specialist operational skills focused on software and automation, comfortable collecting large amounts of data, analysing it and presenting it back in a way that everyone can understand and use.

Unfortunately, traditional accountants are not taught the technology side of the finance function. They are not shown how to obtain or analyse large and varied datasets. They don’t know about automating processes or how to implement software solutions effectively. There is a hole in the finance team's operational finance side – one that the FinOps Manager fills.

A FinOps Manager with the right knowledge is essential for producing the clearer, faster, and richer insights that will become the core component of the future finance team. At Quantico, we help accountants gain the skills necessary to enter the world of FinOps.

Even if you already have a Chief Data Officer in your company, you should still invest in a FinOps Manager. Although the Chief Data Officer is part of the IT function in many companies, the CFO has a unique perspective as a consumer and provider of consistent information across the company. The CFO is well-positioned to marshal resources across departments to improve data standards and raise them to the top of the corporate agenda.

While finance cannot drive enterprise data efforts on its own, it can promote collaboration at the top of the company, between leaders of IT, digital, customer-facing and operational functions. It can do this by developing robust business cases that articulate the quantifiable returns on investment that improving data quality will bring.

How to get there now

There is no better time than today to start futureproofing your finance function – and Quantico can help you get there. 

The same article by McKinsey identifies four places to start:

Incentivising upskilling

Make your current team members want to upskill and make themselves indispensable:

  • Put in incentives to learn new skills
  • Set targets for internal promotions to leadership roles
  • Commend managers who encourage their team members to upskill through coaching

At Quantico, we do this by holding weekly training sessions for our team members. It’s an opportunity for peers to teach and learn from each other. We also created an in-depth finance handbook – continually updated – that centralises all of the technical knowledge we have acquired. We are happy to share our handbook with anyone who requests it.

Fostering a new generation of finance leaders

It’s essential to have leaders in finance teams who have the knowledge, stature and confidence to engage with company leaders on their level. To do this, they must be business and tech-savvy. They need to have experience in operations and strategy, as well as being great communicators.

As mentioned in the previous section, we encourage our team to teach their peers, which builds confidence and communication skills. We also have what we call the Squad System, where employees spend time working in other parts of the business to experience first-hand how a company operates.

Following agile working principles

FinOps Managers should be comfortable with agile methods such as sprints. Sprints can be incredibly effective for identifying, designing and implementing new financial initiatives that solve business challenges with in-depth insights.

Businesses should be able to distinguish between Business As Usual (BAU) and improvement projects where sprints are necessary. Of course, improvement projects shouldn’t only be applied to the finance function. 

At Quantico, we found by mobilising flexible, on-demand contracts and temporary teams. It means companies can use their time with FinOps professionals more efficiently.

Ensuring the data that enters your company is clean

It is markedly more efficient to bring clean, validated data into your company than it is to address issues of data quality after they happen. 

Quantico’s FinOps Managers are trained to be process-driven. They focus on integrating and checking automation software and the (as few as possible) manual tasks necessary to ensure data is valid at the point of entry. 

Find out more from Quantico

If you want to understand more about unlocking more insight in your business – book a call with Quantico today

You can also sign up to our FinOps Academy and upskill yourself with the skills required to become a FinOps Manager. Visit our site to find out more.