Best practices when restructuring a finance team
Blog //03-05-2022

Best practices when restructuring a finance team

by Amanda Grant, Chief Product Officer

The restructuring of a finance team can cover a range of aspects. It could be a change of personnel, a reshuffle of the hierarchy, or a rethink around the roles that are needed. It could also include an alteration of the processes and tools used by finance employees to complete their everyday tasks.

Some businesses may be hesitant to go ahead with a restructure, due to the perceived risks that come with change. It’s true that any transitional period isn’t risk-free. But if a pivot is absolutely (and justifiably) needed, it can be just as damaging to ignore it.  

In this article, we highlight the reasons a financial restructure may be needed and discuss the benefits that can come with implementing such changes. We also provide some tips on how to successfully restructure your finance team and highlight some common pitfalls to avoid while completing this activity.      

Why might your finance team need to be restructured?

  • Accountability gaps

When the responsibilities within a finance team are initially handed out, they may continue to be relevant for many years. But as the team evolves and priorities shift, there will come a point when new obligations arise. When this happens it may be necessary to create a brand-new role, or to redistribute responsibilities around the existing team (which could impact their expectations around salary and job title).  

  • Legislation changes

If there’s a new legal requirement in the world of finance, this may affect the way a business operates. If it is a complex or long-winded changes it may require a specialist to be added to the team. An example of such a legislative change is the ‘Making Tax Digital’ initiative, which requires businesses to complete tax submissions via an approved digital platform. It’s important to always remain compliant, as non-compliance can sometimes lead to large fines.  

  • Market shifts

A shift within the financial sector or a change of market conditions within the relevant industry can impact companies economically. If conditions become harsher, and the economy shrinks, businesses may have to tighten their spend. This could see them scale back their operations, which could include making their finance team smaller. Brexit and the pandemic are examples of environmental/political events that have affected businesses in various markets.   

  • Competitor advancement

Performance is a common catalyst for change. If financial performance is poor, it probably means something needs to be done differently. The same applies if a clear gap has emerged between a company and its closest competitors. It could mean a competitor analysis is needed, which would shed light on their financial processes and the advantages they have gained.   

  • Mergers or acquisitions

When a merger or acquisition occurs, new methods are usually unavoidable. This could be because the approach of the dominant business ends up taking precedence. Staff losses can be inevitable in this scenario too if there are now two people for each position. And there might be a shift in company culture. A new finance manager entering a team would also lead to adjustments, as they would probably want to put their own stamp on proceedings.   

  • Increased demand

In contrast to job losses and economic shrinkage, if the market is favourable or demand suddenly surges, then an expansion of the finance team may be possible. Not only will there be extra income to accommodate this growth, but it will probably be needed too (as greater resource will be required to cover this increased demand).   

  • Outdated methods

If the processes currently being used haven’t been updated for a long time, it might be the right moment to try something new. Best practices and ideals are always evolving within finance teams and the wider finance realm, so it’s important to remain agile and to keep methods up to date as the times change.  

  • New innovations

A new technology may be so transformative within the finance sector that it simply cannot be ignored. If a recent innovation has enabled finance teams to achieve previously unattainable results/insights, and it has been widely adopted by competitors, then it almost becomes a must to follow suit. This implementation would inevitably lead to different ways of working for the team.

What are the goals of a financial restructure?

  • Increased efficiency

One of the top aims when restructuring a finance team is to streamline processes. If activities aren’t being completed in an optimally efficient way, this is going to detriment the business. However, when the correct amount of people/resources are being deployed in the right ways, this will serve to improve performance.    

  • Reduced costs

A reshuffle can be used as a means of cutting costs. If a business is in financial trouble and needs to scale things back, the act of making the team smaller or removing unnecessary processes will no doubt reduce the amount of money being spent.      

  • Longevity

Some restructuring will take place to deal with existing problems, but some will happen to safeguard against future perils that the business has identified. By looking ahead, planning, and putting measures in place within the finance team, the business will hope to attain greater longevity.    

  • Continued compliance

As touched upon already, alterations made specifically for new legislation should lead to continued compliance for the finance team.    

  • Better employee satisfaction

Although team changes can sometimes be negative, they can often lead to better outcomes for employees (when done properly). If the rearrangement leads to better processes and the utilisation of better tools, then a worker’s typical day will become less stressful and more seamless. If employees are given responsibilities most suited to their expertise/experience, they will likely be more engaged and fulfilled too.      

What are the risks that come with restructuring your finance team?

There are some common pitfalls that should be avoided when restructuring a finance team. If the appropriate precautions aren’t taken, it could lead to:   

  • Worsened team morale
  • Loss of talent
  • Neglected values
  • Customer dissatisfaction
  • Chaotic processes
  • Decreased productivity
  • Reduced profitability

How to successfully restructure your finance team

  • Identify the initial need for change

The first aspect of reshaping a finance team is detecting the need for a change in the first place. It should be the right reason, a substantial enough reason, and at the right time. The finance manager should always be on the lookout for threats/opportunities, so that the team can pivot accordingly. A restructure should be driven and informed by data, not instinct. Data can highlight the need for a change, the specific areas that need attention, as well as the actions that should be taken.   

  • Perform a risk assessment

Before going ahead with changes without a second thought, the necessary precautions should be taken minimise potential risks. This should include an assessment of the proposed restructure, to figure out what the likely outcome of the new processes will be. After identifying any risks, the plan can then be tweaked to keep disruption as low as possible. If it is determined that the plan is unsustainable from a financial perspective, it may need to be scrapped completely.  

  • Plan thoroughly

The plan itself should be as detailed as possible, leaving no stone left unturned. Every phase of the transitional period should be accounted for, in terms of specific actions, and who will be responsible for them. Ideally there should be intricate goals/targets along the way, all in pursuit of the overarching result. Targets help to create accountability, and timescales help to maintain momentum.  

  • Communicate the plan to all

Once the intricate details have been ironed out, the next step is to communicate this to everyone involved. It’s important to do this as clearly and as early as possible, so that people have plenty of time to prepare. The idea of a restructure could be communicated even before the specifics are determined, as employees may have something valuable to add to the plan. If they are involved, they will also be more likely embrace the changes and be an advocate to others. All stakeholders should be informed in good time, including partners who will perhaps have to interact with the finance team in a different way.      

  • Provide training

Those in the finance team should be given adequate training if they are expected to abide to new processes. This also applies if they now have new responsibilities. They should have access to the tools they need, as well as the know-how to wield these effectively. If necessary, external experts can be brought in to cover transitional periods, so that work doesn’t stop. Employees should be given a clear indication of what they’re accountable for and how they fit into the wider team.   

  • Utilise technology

The adoption of technology is itself an example of restructuring. But technology can be used to assist with restructuring too. By taking the weight off employees, and automating certain manual tasks, it creates more breathing space. Technologies like Cloud-based accounting software help to boost performance, by increasing the speed of processes, reducing mistakes, and generally cutting costs through improved efficiency. These improvements can reduce turbulence during large-scale changes. Automation means that individuals can pay more attention to the intricacies of the team reshuffle. It also acts as a safety net, keeping productivity high during uncertain times.   

Which technology to use during a financial restructure

At Advanced, we provide a Cloud-based accounting solution called Advanced Financials. This software assists finance teams with their everyday tasks and enhances their efficiency through streamlined processes. The system automates many of the repetitive tasks, so the team can focus on strategy and performance. Advanced Financials takes accounting to the next level, with dedicated functionality for general ledger, accounts payable/receivable, bank reconciliation, credit management, sales invoicing, purchase management, and much more.    

This accounting software was designed for finance people by finance people, and is intentionally simple to use. With over 1,000 customisable reports, users are likely to find a template that matches their needs, saving them the time and energy they would have spent if building the report from scratch. With useful dashboards, finance managers can instantly grab a snapshot of current performance. And as the system is Cloud-based, the data in these reports/dashboards should always be up to date, which is a powerful weapon when making strategic decisions during a restructure.     

 

If your finance team is in need of restructuring, and you’re looking for a powerful tool to assist with a seamless transition, be sure to read more about our transformational Cloud-based accounting software.    

Blog Financial Management Advanced Financials
Amanda Grant

Amanda Grant

PUBLISHED BY

Chief Product Officer

Amanda joined Advanced in 2018 and was promoted to CPO in 2019 following a successful stint as Product Strategy Director, being responsible for the correct investment decisions.

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