Many CFOs have known about the potential of Cloud technology for some time now. It has become a fundamental part of how businesses operate and enhances finance teams through improved communication, collaboration, efficiency, cost-effectiveness, and security.
For those that are yet to embrace the Cloud, the main challenge will be ensuring this transition is as smooth as possible, so that they can enjoy these benefits as soon as possible (and to the full extent).
This technology has facilitated remote working, and the ability to collaborate effectively when working remotely. But CFOs and Finance Managers must adapt their methods to successfully lead a hybrid working finance team. They will also need to keep up to date with the latest finance industry trends so they can remain on the cutting edge when it comes to collaboration and productivity.
Leveraging effective collaboration with Cloud tech
Effective collaboration in finance doesn’t necessarily mean everyone has the ability to do everyone else’s job. But it does mean every cog within the wider finance mechanism can seamlessly interact and influence one another. This will ensure there are no detrimental bottlenecks due to isolated pockets of work within the department.
To use the example of a warehouse environment, the lorry driver, forklift truck operator, inventory manager, stocker, loader, and material handler will all need to be synchronised if the whole puzzle is to come together successfully.
With back-office functions like finance teams though, there can be a tendency to think it’s acceptable to work in silos, as it’s not as obviously interconnected. Those in payroll, billing, accounts payable, forecasting, and budgeting may all stay away from each other and get on with their own responsibilities.
But this is a very outdated way of operating. All these elements must come together if financial data is to be complete, accurate, and current. And this is the only way to gain a true picture of overall financial health, so that leaders can make correct decisions around aspects like investments and growth.
What are the benefits of collaborative working?
Of course, every member of your finance team has their own specific responsibilities. But their areas of interest could (and perhaps should) overlap if the best outcomes are to be achieved. Here are a few of the benefits gained from effective collaboration in finance departments:
When employees have a greater sense of their impact on others and the wider organisation, this can really empower those in the finance team. It can also give them a greater sense of belonging to be part of something bigger than themselves, and it will likely make them stick around for longer if they can see they’re appreciated by their colleagues.
Processes can be completed in a much more streamlined manner when everyone is on the same wavelength (and on the same digital platform). When all staff are working together in real time, there’s no waiting for another person to sign off on a piece of work. Each person knows what they’re accountable for, and when their role must be fulfilled.
This efficiency means the whole chain of events with activities like invoice processing is much smoother and more automatic. As a result, there is a lower likelihood of bottlenecks and downtime.
More efficient use of time and resources inevitably leads to increased business productivity too, and a higher volume of output from the finance function specifically. Everyone has the relevant information at their fingertips to enable productivity, such as having visibility around aspects like payments received. Gone are the days of waiting an age for someone else to email across the relevant data.
How can Cloud tech be used to work collaboratively?
Our annual Finance Trends Report found that 77% of finance professionals believe they can only work effectively when they’re in the office. This contrasts with the wider consensus, as most employees in other departments believe they’re equally as productive when at home or in the office.
The reason for this could be that many finance teams are yet to be given innovative tools such as Cloud technology. Cloud software ensures they can access their work from any location so long as they have a stable internet connection, which goes to show how much technology can influence the employee experience.
For finance teams working from home, many have adopted a hybrid work model. This arguably gives them the best of both worlds, as they’re able to focus without distractions when number-crunching, but still have time together with colleagues to collaborate on more strategic analysis.
This balanced approach ensures they can avoid working in their own silo for too long while also avoiding distractions when appropriate. For optimal team performance, it’s crucial to maintain strong collaborative working practices.
Part of this involves providing instant communication tools, so ideas can be easily shared, and accountabilities can be upheld by those in positions of authority. Physical location is no longer a barrier for businesses when they choose the right accounting software.
They can continue to work collaboratively on projects in real time. These systems often facilitate the automation of manual processes, giving finance professionals even more capacity to work together in meaningful ways.
Here are just a few of the ways Cloud-based accounting systems are used for better collaboration:
1. Stronger work connections
Regular and consistent sharing of information is maintained to prevent staff from feeling disconnected or isolated. If this is done in tandem with frequent Teams calls and one-to-ones, it’s possible to forge shared goals and objectives.
2. Communicate securely
Sensitive financial data is some of the most sought-after information by cyber criminals. And irresponsible collaboration/communication within finance teams is a prime opportunity for them to pounce on this information. The Cloud makes this whole process more secure, as data is kept in one place, stored on an off-site server, and protected by the provider.
3. Transparency around deadlines
The Cloud creates ultimate transparency around the work finance professionals are doing, as well as a clear audit trail of who has taken which actions. This ensures employees have more clarity and can be held accountable if they have missed a deadline or failed to play their part.
4. More creative work
Not only can employees collaborate more easily, but they can get involved with a higher quality of collaboration and more impactful tasks. Cloud accounting systems facilitate the automation of mundane manual tasks such as data-entry, as all updates across the department are synchronised. This means those in the finance team can put their heads together for deeper analysis and more creative/strategic financial decisions.
5. Better cohesion
Cloud-based financial management boosts cohesion within the finance team. All obligations of the finance function take place within a single digital location. This means there is only one version of the truth when it comes to data, so there are fewer conflicts around who has the most accurate and current information.
What are the risks of remote collaboration?
There are a few issues that should be proactively managed when encouraging remote collaborative working, such as the following:
Maintaining team spirit
If you’re allowing employees to enjoy flexible working, try to at least put the occasional bit of office time in their work schedule. Face-to-face interactions among employees help to build a better team spirit and culture within the business. Some collaborative tasks are simply easier to complete in person too, such as idea-sharing sessions.
Providing effective training
Similarly, while online training can be very effective, consider training days or seminars where everyone meets in person. Not only this, but also provide the appropriate training on the tools they’ll be using when collaborating remotely, otherwise they won’t have the skills needed to work together.
Ownership of responsibilities
With collaborative working, a bad practice can become the norm because no one wants to take ownership of the issue. It’s even more important with modern ways of collaborating to lay out clear lines of responsibility for each function within the department, otherwise the geographical distance between employees could stifle productivity.
Data control and access
Good financial cybersecurity is also vital. Whether it’s a statutory requirement or just good practice, there will be some occasions when data shouldn’t be shared beyond those people who need to access it.
Similarly, there might be occasions when sensitive business information is not for sharing beyond a small circle. Giving your whole team access to everything can therefore pose a problem, so it’s important to implement financial software that allows you to control elements of accessibility on an individual basis.
Get collaborative with Cloud tech
Embracing the concept of modern collaboration is the first step, but then you need to put this philosophy into action with certain steps. One such step is embracing Cloud technology if you haven’t done so already.
At Advanced we offer market-leading software solutions that allow your whole team to work collaboratively on the same system. This integrated approach makes finance automation a real possibility.
With Cloud solutions, physical location is no longer a barrier to efficient work processes. Even if the whole finance department is working from home, your team operates smoothly and quickly. It can automate much of the finance operation and provide access to a more complete/current dataset.
Advanced Financials accounting software is here to help your finance function reach their full potential, allowing them to become a more strategic and collaborative powerhouse within the company. This transformative technology helps to future-proof your business, keeping you up to date with the latest trends and keeping you ahead of competitors.