The growing importance of finance teams for business success

The past few years has seen most finance teams move away from a traditional, number-crunching focus and into a more strategic, business advisory focus. This benefits the organisations they work for and helps finance leaders demonstrate ongoing relevance in a changing business landscape, according to Concur.

Matt Goss, ANZ managing director, Concur, said, “Being strategic means spending time on planning and driving business actions, rather than on reporting and compliance tactics. To achieve this, finance leaders need to know what issues to focus on, and they need to have the right data and business intelligence to gain insights they can act on.”

Concur has identified five ways finance teams must evolve to meet changing organisational needs:

1.   Gain new skills. To add significant value, finance teams must learn to effectively leverage data. This means finance team members need to possess a strong understanding of data and how to analyse it to achieve useful insights. This may mean they need to retrain or upskill.

2.   Embrace technology. The increased use of artificial intelligence (AI) to automate parts of the finance team’s role will reduce manual tasks so team members can focus on contributing creatively to the company’s success.

3.   Collaborate and communicate. As the finance team’s role becomes more complex, developing strong relationships throughout the organisation will make collaboration easier and more successful. Building a team with a mix of skills and experience is likely to deliver the best outcomes.

4.   Welcome change. Given the rate of digital disruption in Australian businesses, it’s crucial finance leaders ensure everyone in the team is ready to embrace new approaches and technologies. Without their buy-in, any attempt at transformation is likely to fail.

5.   Avoid data traps. Finance leaders are increasingly relying on data and insights to drive better business decisions. To do this effectively, they must be disciplined in identifying which questions they want to answer so they only use the relevant data to get the required insights. The purpose of the data is to gain insights, and the purpose of insights is to deliver business improvements. Any data-related activity that doesn’t fit this purpose is likely to be a waste of time and resources.

Matt Goss said, “Finance teams that embrace their changing role, augment existing skills, and experiment with new technologies and approaches will reap the benefits. In other words, finance teams will become the enabler of intelligent information for strategic decision-making across all aspects of the organisation.”