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Every CEO and CFO wants the most effective and productive performance from their finance teams. Depending on the company, fulfilling this goal may look very different in actuality. Knowing your team members and how they work inside and out is essential to creating the finest workflows and processes. Many businesses are left wondering: What are tried-and-true methods to improve the performance of any finance team?

Fortunately, there are doable actions that, if followed, may place you firmly in control of high performance and effectiveness, as well as the operational efficiency of your team. Prepared to see those? Going now:

1. Identify and address productivity killers

The first step towards achieving team efficiency is always to identify drawbacks and bottlenecks that could be holding your people back. Here’s a look at some of them:

  • Manual data entry errors
  • Slow processes
  • Fraud
  • Miscommunication
  • Mismanagement of information
  • Inefficient approval processing
  • Unclear role division
  • Lack of visibility
  • Missing documents

Once you’ve identified and removed these productivity killers, it means your operations can run more smoothly. It’s equivalent to servicing an engine so that it runs without clogging up.

2. Train your finance team

The next step you want to take is upskilling your people. For example, if you’re using financial management software, sending your team members to helpful training and webinars, or even investing in a useful accounting book can optimize their input.

The training should help them keep up with both internal procedures and the latest accounting practices.

3. Automate manual processes

One of the best things you can do for your finance department is automating manual processes. There are many advantages to this, including freeing up human resources’ time to focus on more human-oriented tasks, eliminating human errors, and generally speeding up your overall performance as repetitive tasks are automated.

Almost all accounting and financial tasks can be automated to a degree, be it accounts payable, receivables, expense management, invoicing, inventory, and what have you. Automation lets you process documents in batches. For instance, instead of manually processing receipts or invoices individually, your finance team can consolidate and process multiple items together using automation. This saves time and effort while improving efficiency.

Which processes to automate

There are countless processes in the company that can be improved with automation. It can be overwhelming to decide where to start. A good rule of thumb? Have a plan, before you execute. Making any kind of operational change should be done with proper preparation and planning, as multiple stakeholders are usually involved.

Here’s a simple strategy to incorporate automation into your operations smoothly:

  • Identify your most repetitive, low-value tasks. These could be manual data entry, but also individual email reminders for missing receipts, or building meticulous reports month after month. Does your team’s experience and intuition add anything to these particular tasks? If not, it can – and probably should – be automated.
  • Find the right tools. Read reviews, ask peers, and do a few product demos to find the best tools for your team. Your ultimate goal is to reduce time spent on repetitive tasks.
  • Repeat these steps before making a purchase. While not all your problems can be solved with one tool, you might be able to tackle a handful at once. For example, company card spend and expense reports admin actually stem from the same root: payment methods at work. And the best tools will fix both at once.
  • Choose and implement your automation. Consider the level of communication you need to have with other stakeholders. Make sure all users are on-boarded appropriately and can easily follow the new process.

New tools take time to ramp up, and you’ll likely hit a few snags along the way. Don’t forget to monitor your implementation progress and ask your team for feedback after a few months.

4. Communicate clearly

Communication is essential to teamwork. Little or the lack of it could result in process failure and even project breakdown.

Read Also: How to Rate Financial Advisors?

Not only should you communicate your expectations, policies and procedures to your finance team from the outset, but should also be open to receiving their feedback and advice. Also, ensure you provide adequate communication channels between team members for the free flow of information so they can work more harmoniously.

5. Integrate with other departments

Finance teams often rely on data from other departments in order to do their work.

Whether you want to use ERP software or a standalone accounting solution, by properly integrating your accounting department with other departments and their systems and processes, anyone can share data very easily and quickly. This saves your finance team from the usually long and tedious task of requesting data and moves work faster.

6. Remove redundant processes

Get rid of unnecessary processes or tasks that won’t affect the output when removed. In most cases, redundancies are huge time-wasters and can slow down your team’s efforts.

Redundancies aren’t just found in your processes. They can be found in the movement of your team as well. You want to limit movements (both physical and otherwise) within your workflows and processes to get projects completed on time and within budget.

7. Give your finance team the right tools to work with

You might have the best professionals in your finance team but without the right tool, they won’t be able to perform their duties at an optimum level.

For example, providing your team with reliable financial management software empowers them to do their work efficiently, accurately, and effectively. 

8. Embrace a customer service mindset

The closer your ties are with other business units – particularly sales and marketing – the more effective your finance team will be. Finance teams want company growth just as much as sales teams. Sales force effectiveness and retaining profitable customers are the two most effective growth drivers, even more than reducing costs or entering new markets. And you can have a genuine and positive impact on this effectiveness with clean data and shared insights.

Most importantly, the finance team needs an open understanding and flow of information back and forth with other units. You can help them understand what they’re doing well to grow revenue, and they can provide timely data and documents to make your life easier.

The goal is to involve finance in the decision-making processes across your organization. Not just as a checkpoint, but rather to open new possibilities towards efficient, strategic growth.

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