How Finance Leaders Can Elevate Their Business Processes – Strategic Whiteboard Series

It is no secret that Finance leaders are striving to become more nimble, remove tedious manual processes, and shift time/energy to executing their organization’s strategic objectives. But, getting that locomotive moving and turning it into a high-speed bullet train is easier said than done. Check out the following video to see how your organization can hit the accelerator by putting increased focus on dynamic reporting, the ability to access data quicker, and upskill resource capabilities for more analytic activities. In today’s Strategic Whiteboard Series video, Nick Scott explores:

  • The importance of modernizing your finance strategies around data analytics
  • How your organization can achieve its analytics and data strategy goals to enhance business operations
  • The value of bringing talented people into your organization with a background in analytics

 

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Transcript

Hey, everybody. My name is Nick Scott, I lead the data analytics practice at SC&H Group, which rolls up to our business performance management team today. We’re going to be talking about modernizing the finance strategies around data analytics as a whole. I know that can be a daunting topic. We hope we can kind of break this down a little bit, talk about some things that we have found helpful with our clients and folks that we’re working with in the industry to help move some of these goals and aspirations forward to bring the value chain that finance can bring to the organization and start moving it back to that strategic thinking mindset. When I think about our recent projects and engagements, how I view what finance is doing for the organization is they are the lifeblood. Everything comes to them, whether it’s compliance, organizational reporting, accountability when it comes to how the company is performing as a whole?

Back here, we have the little engine that could hear on the left, finance accounting they are the train, they’re chugging up the hill. It can be a daunting task, and there’s a lot of manual effort that goes into making sure that everything is cohesive, whether it’s reporting or simply just moving data from one system to another to ensure that other folks can get their job done. So a lot of effort goes into it. What organizations want to turn into is this high-speed bullet train that we see here on the right with more nimble reporting, the ability to get data quicker, be more accurate, get into more analytic activities. That’s obviously where we want to be but the journey is tougher than that sounds, and it’s always daunting to get started. A couple of things that we have seen recently be successful trends in us coming in and working with a finance organization to adopt the right data strategies, put the right things in place to help an initiative move forward has been a few key topics.

The number one thing we have found that has been beneficial and helps these projects move quickly is not trying to be siloed. Once again, we want to make sure that we’re melding in with the tools and technologies that the organization as a whole are utilizing for analytics, reporting, you name it, versus being one-off and doing things on their own. So building good relationships either with the IT teams, most organizations now have an entire analytics department, a data team. We want to build those relationships and we also want to get those folks involved. That way, the strategies that they have used across the organization, whether it’s been for sales or marketing, you name it, we’re piggybacking off that. We don’t want to go through this process where we’re identifying a new tool or technology to stand up a data warehouse when maybe the organization has solved that in another piece of the organization and we can just leverage it. We can start piggybacking off those conversations and maybe the methodologies they’ve used to be successful and then we have a quicker path to start getting some quick wins. Also, after a consulting firm like SC&H Group comes in and helps you stand up a very analytic strategy and some solutions, that team can support you moving forward. And they’re going to have folks there that are well-versed in anything that you stand up. That way there are not these gaps in knowledge, you can leverage what’s there in your organization.

The other main things that we’re seeing as well are spending more time on data prioritization and data strategy. A lot of times the concepts are out there, we want dashboards, we want faster reporting, we want to stop doing manual report compilation, we’re going to get out of excel hell, what I like to call it. That’s great and those are broad goals. Those are something that we can move towards but I think spending a little bit of time upfront has been so valuable for me when coming into an organization to understand how to prioritize what’s coming next and put specific goals around it so that way we can show output and tangible outcomes has been big. Incorporating some dashboard and concepts and some of the things that have that appeal are important, but also just documenting the importance of having a better understanding of data flows within the finance team, how it integrates with business operations, what data is being asked of finance that is a bottleneck and is holding back other teams from getting their jobs done correctly has been a big theme as well. You know, no one likes allowing a consulting firm or anybody to come in, even internally, and spend a lot of time on documentation. But I think doing that assessment when you actually dive into buying a technology product or saying what your end state goal needs to be for the year and putting priority around those goals is important. That’s where you start to come up with ideas of whether or not you need a data warehouse. Do we need BI and analytics tools? Do we need to take a step back and look at the way that we’re integrating data across the finance applications? Or is that all well and good and maybe we are further along than we even thought, and we can move faster on this value chain. So there’s a lot of different things across organizations that can drive priorities, but making sure that you pick something that has high visibility, high business value, and then also something that you can measure and have tangible outcomes, I think is extremely important.

The other piece, too, that we need to talk about is the shift in resourcing. We’re seeing a lot of young folks coming into the organization that has a ton of analytic skills, they’re learning this throughout their college career, it is something that I think they’re being told is very important moving forward. Folks want to get into this space. Bringing talented people into the organization that are focused on finance, but maybe have some experience with BI, analytics, business analysts background things of that nature, can really help move these projects forward. Folks are going to be excited about the outcomes that are going to come from having more modern data analytics, data availability within the organization, and how that’s going to allow them to kind of progress in their careers and what they’re going to bring to the org.

I would say really start looking at that as far as your talent and building up your organization moving forward. Have those internal champions, folks that are embracing this. You’re bringing them in for a purpose to help not only just be that finance analyst, but also drive strategy across your organization, knowing that this is a topic that’s not going to go away. So those are the major things that we’ve been seeing. Hopefully, we can get into this a little bit more in detail in some upcoming videos. If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to me. Again, my name is Nick. Contact information should be at the bottom of the video and look forward to talking soon.