Most finance leaders will tell you that transforming their department into a digital one is at the top of their priority list.
Unfortunately, they will also tell you that they have so many competing objectives that they simply cannot find the time, so how do you go about improving your department as a finance leader?
In this piece, we’ll look at some practical strategies to free up resources so that you may begin digital integration and take your department to the next level.
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Triage your department
The first step is to take a look at your department and work out what you have to do and what you like to do.
In a nutshell, what is essential and what can be put on the back burner for a while.
Be ruthless though and don’t allow any of your pet projects to steal resources when you could be using the time for digital transformation. After all, you’ll have a lot more resource after the transformation project to return to the things you like to do.
Organising tasks into must-do, should-do and like-to-do will identify all those areas that can usefully be shelved temporarily.
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Integration projects for career development
It is all too tempting to think that you should run any project, after all, you are the finance leader but if you take this approach you could be missing an opportunity.
Using your integration project as an opportunity for career development for your junior management is a smart move as it significantly strengthens your department.
Let’s face the facts
Admittedly, a younger, less experienced manager or supervisor is not going to do as good a job but you have to ask yourself whether it is better to get a project completed to a level of 95% or to wait until a time when you have a gap in your diary to do it yourself.
Delegating projects in this way, especially when you are using the incremental approach gives confidence to your junior management, signals that you trust them, and allows you to concentrate on other aspects of your role whilst maintaining a watching brief.
Think about interims
Some companies use interim managers all the time, some never use them.
If you are in the latter category then you are missing out because bringing in external expertise is a ‘no-brainer’ when it comes to projects.
Interim managers are expensive – for a reason.
They have the experience, knowledge, and training to make sure your project runs smoothly, to budget, and on time.
And the best thing? Most interims will be self-sufficient, self-starters meaning that you will have to put very little personal time into your digital integration project.
You can bring in interims to run the project, to work on specific aspects such as data cleansing, or you can bring people in at a lower level for business as usual work whilst you second members of your finance team to your project.
Make use of your software provider
Many finance leaders think that they have to run a project all on their own but this couldn’t be further from the truth.
Remember that your software company is working in this specific area every day of the year and so they already have significant experience in projects that implement their product and connect to other systems.
Use that experience and make sure you draw on every available resource that they will include in the deal.
Look for project managers and assistants who can provide expertise to your team. Also ask for any other resources such as project plans, templates, worksheets, and training materials so that you don’t have to create these yourself.
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Commit little and often
It’s a rare finance leader indeed who hasn’t had a week that has flown by and where they haven’t done any work on their ‘to-do’ list.
The problem is that in the daily hurly-burly of finance it is all too easy to let our digital integration aspirations die due to a lack of attention.
The trick is to start your project, form your project team and then commit to a little time each week and be religious about attending to it.
Although this method means that it may feel that your project is progressing at a snail’s pace, the truth is that having the discipline to do just a couple of hours regularly may well be much more achievable than trying to block out days at a time.
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Summary: digital integration can’t wait
There are so many benefits to moving to new systems ranging from cost-savings to speed and efficiency that digital integration is a ‘must-have’.
The truth is that if you don’t do it then you can bet that your competitors have or are about to so making the time for this type of transformation is vital.
Bringing in extra resource, delegating authority and utilising as much help as your software company can provide will all free up some time to get the project underway.
You need to remember that you have to be committed and stick to your plan but if you use our tips then you’ll find that you can easily find the time to complete your project.