CFOs are beginning to realise the potential of the Cloud. It’s becoming a fundamental part of how business is done and will benefit finance functions by accelerating communication and collaboration to become more efficient, cost-effective, and secure.
As we move forward, the challenge will be to ensure a smoothly managed transition to a new, sustainable Cloud-based world.
The notion of working collaboratively does not necessarily imply everyone works on the same project or does the same thing. In other words, it's not about erasing the skills and expertise of individuals or making everyone capable of doing everyone else's work.
In many business situations, working collaboratively comes naturally. For example, in a warehouse the lorry driver, the forklift truck operator, the stock manager and even the security guard at the front gate must work collaboratively. If one piece of the puzzle is missing, the whole process stalls.
With some back-office functions, though, such as in a finance team, there has often been more a tradition of working in silos. Payroll isn't interested in what billing is doing, accounts payable isn't interested in forecasting, and each team is just following its own path.
Nevertheless, each individual's role within the finance function is part of the bigger picture, and by working together effectively, everyone will reap the benefits.
What are the benefits of collaborative work?
It's likely that different members of your finance team have specific responsibilities, but their areas of interest often overlap.
The benefits of working collaboratively include sharing up-to-date data and knowing what needs to be done without having to wait for instructions every time.
Collaboration within a finance team can yield the following benefits:
Bringing all your employees together and showing them how their own roles play a part in the wider success of the department – and therefore the whole organisation – can make them feel empowered. The roles of these people go well beyond back-office staff whose contribution to the business is secondary. It can also engender loyalty.
Processes can become more efficient when everyone is working on the same system. If the manager isn't there, for example, having to go through a bunch of invoices manually before asking for their signing off can be replaced with a much more efficient process where everyone is using the same system and working together in real time.
So as one part of the process is completed, the next stage automatically becomes live, and the whole thing runs much more smoothly. This means there is a significantly reduced possibility of bottlenecks.
This efficiency can have a positive impact on productivity. Everyone in a team that has access to the same processes and information can instantly identify what is needed - they don't have to wait to be briefed by a manager or to be emailed a report. The right people know immediately when payments have been received, when invoices can be paid, and so on.
The shift to working from home
A recent study found that about 80% of functions – including accounting, reporting, analysis, transacting and compliance – carried out within a finance team can be automated, but typically only a third are.
For some finance teams, working from home is now the norm, while other businesses have adopted a hybrid approach. Working in isolation from home makes it easy for employees to become distracted from the bigger picture and focused on their narrow responsibilities.
Team spirit can quickly disappear if this is the case.
For the finance team to interact and perform at their best, it is crucial to maintain collaborative working practices and processes. You can increase collaboration in your department through real-time, accurate visibility into all projects and areas by automating processes.
People can now work on projects together in a real-time team environment - irrespective of where they are physically located - by leveraging powerful Cloud accounting software.
Creating a remote-working culture that works:
Keep social connections strong
Maintain regular and effective communication to prevent staff from feeling disconnected. Whether you make regular scrum calls or one-on-one catch ups to discuss goals and objectives, this will ensure your team is not working in isolation.
Have cyber security measures in place
Among the most sought-after pieces of information by cyber criminals is sensitive financial information, which is why IT systems need to be secure against attackers yet accessible to employees working remotely.
Set deadlines for tasks
Establish clear objectives for ongoing so that productivity and quality of work can be measured, and expectations remain clear.
Invest in Cloud accounting software
If you provide your finance team with the tools they need to work more efficiently and collaboratively, you can maximise productivity and agile work collaboration. The automation of previously manual tasks allows employees to spend more time on value-adding tasks.
What are the risks of collaboration?
There are a few issues to be aware of when you encourage collaborative working, although most of them can be dealt with through good management and ongoing training.
- Team building
- Taking responsibility
- Data control and access
Even if you enjoy letting your employees work flexibly, try to build at least some physical interaction into their work pattern – even if it’s just an occasional team briefing in the office or an away day.
Similarly, while online training can be very effective, consider training days or seminars where everyone meets to do it together. As well as engendering some team spirit, training in a group can stimulate questions that don’t emerge when everyone is sitting behind their own computers at home.
With collaborative working, a bad practice can become the norm because no one wants to take ownership of the issue. It’s important that there remain clear lines of responsibility for each function within the department, so someone can take ownership when an issue needs addressing.
Meanwhile, good data control and access is vital. Whether it’s a statutory requirement or just good practice, there will be some occasions where data shouldn’t be shared beyond those people who need to access it.
Similarly, there might be occasions where 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 that you have fintech software that allows you to control which aspects of the department are available to people on an individual basis.
Get collaborative with Advanced
Embracing the concept of work collaboration is the first step, but then you need to put it into action.
Advanced offers expertise and market-leading software solutions, meaning your whole team can work collaboratively on the same system with real-time data and automation at their fingertips.
Based securely on the Cloud, physical location no longer matters. Even if your whole team is working from home, your department can operate smoothly and at speed. It should allow you to fully automate your finance operations while giving you control over who can access each set of data.
Advanced Financials accounting software is here to help your finance function reach the potential to become a strategic and value-driven, collaborative powerhouse for your company today -- and prepare it to achieve even greater success in the years to come. Get in touch with one of our experts today.