Managing Your Team and Career Through Today’s ‘New’ Economic Realities – Part III
Most of today’s business leaders are experiencing a convergence of economic events unprecedented during their careers.
Increasing interest rates, low unemployment, the most transient workforce in 50 years, a complete rethinking of where we work from, and a myriad of technology choices are overwhelming finance leaders and their teams. This comes on top of a rapid rise in inflation over the past 24 months, leaving margins compressed and SG&A expenses soaring for many businesses.
In this 3-part series we share 6 topics that will help you navigate the new waters of today’s economy.
The topics include People, Leadership, Profitability/Cash Flow, Funding, Technology and Your Professional Growth. We will include actions finance leaders can take to thrive in an environment where others are trying to survive.
In Part III we cover Technology and Your Professional Growth.
A key responsibility of Finance leaders is to model the expected returns on assets considered for investment. It’s no different for our technology investments.
There is no denying technology is becoming an ever-bigger part of nearly every organization’s asset base. (If your balance sheet doesn’t show this trend, capitalize your technology subscriptions and compare that to your balance sheet 5 years ago.)
The benefits of technology can be very rewarding. The plethora of technology options in all aspects of accounting, finance, and treasury is growing at a dizzying rate, making the challenge of knowing what is available and selecting the right product for your company an exercise growing in complexity.
The following material will help you manage the technology assessment and implementation process more effectively.
AI won’t take your job, but if you don’t stay on top of AI, somebody who does, will.
The recent AI rage has taken businesses by storm. As curators of critical information, Chief Financial Officers must create processes and develop systems that filter out noise and focus only on the most important, actionable information. The amount of data being created is growing at astronomical rates making this role more crucial and more difficult.
Explore how CFOs can take a practical approach to integrating artificial intelligence (AI) into their operations in this series of articles I co-authored with Peter Chisambara, A Practical Approach to Using Artificial Intelligence.
To help you determine where to invest in AI applications CFO.University developed the AI in Finance - Identification Worksheet
Glenn Hopper and Rachell Cappell write, “As people use new powerful AI tools like ChatGPT and BARD for everything from setting meeting agendas to writing personal letters, shopping lists, and even poetry, an AI-powered future seems likely to become a reality sooner rather than later. AI coupled with The Digitization of the Finance Function* create powerful levers for today’s CFO.
In a world that embraces and rewards AI, “Leaning in” to this technology is not optional for finance and accounting. AI is the proverbial locomotive that has already left the station, it beckons to be understood and channeled amid the risky and rugged terrain of the corporate landscape. Finance and accounting professionals must overcome our risk aversion in favor of innovation and efficiency to remain ahead of the curve – and avoid obsolescence. Even more, we must square off with the power of AI to be responsible stewards of our clients’ and customers’ best interests. As with all other nascent technologies, opportunities abound, and the finance and accounting community can catalyze the changes that enable the global corporate community to seize the day.”
Their article, Embracing AI in Finance and Accounting: Balancing Risk and Innovation, also provides details on how to use AI in finance & accounting.
Don’t let the installation of a new ERP system drag you down.
Peter Adams, a strategic leader in technology, writes, “An ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) system is an integrated suite of software programs (modules) that both facilitate and automate a firm’s business processes and transactions. While performing these functions, the system collects, processes and stores all the data associated with those processes and transactions.
You must fix your organization and processes before you automate. If you have inefficient business processes, all computer systems will report the same automated mess.
In Peter’s article, The Secret to Successful ERP Implementations is Not Putting the Cart Before the Horse, he lists 5 ways to optimize the return on investment of your ERP system.
ERP systems have been around for quite a while. They may be old tech, but they are still the hub of technology for many companies. Most ERP installations don’t live up to expectations. Andrew Lee, a CFO in Vancouver, Washington, shares his ERP turnaround story in System Implementations can be Successful (10:28).
Automation is growing your team’s capacity to add value.
The size, complexity, and importance of data is growing at a breakneck pace as an increasing number of transactions are handled digitally. As a result, the manual approach of managing finance operations is proving insufficient for finance teams. The technology around automation products is rapidly revolutionizing finance processes by providing faster, cheaper and more accurate options.
Automation software products utilize a combination of rules engine, machine learning algorithms, and artificial intelligence to automate business operations. This can include data processing, multi-party reconciliation, reporting, monitoring, auditing, and even compliance.
In Automation Is Transforming Finance Operations, by Ravi Bhardwaj, CEO of Koah.ai, Ravi shares an automation priority checklist, an automation case study and a list of benefits automation can deliver to the CFO suite. He concludes by writing, “… automation products are transforming finance operations by providing faster, cheaper, and more efficient processes. They reduce the need for extensive paperwork, increase both efficiency and productivity, and boost employee confidence. Automation should be used as a tool to make working in finance easier and more effective, with humans playing a critical role in the decision-making process.”
The Multiplier Effect
Professional development has a multiplier effect. Certainly, it has a positive impact on you personally. But it goes well beyond that. Your team, your colleagues and your family all benefit as you get better. That multiplier effect is what drives the team at CFO.University develop material that helps CFOs and other accounting, finance and treasury leaders to get better faster.
Here are some articles, videos and tools that will help you and the team multiply your professional growth.
Improving your people development skills
Julie Winkle Guilioni, a leading authority on talent development and how leaders can improve their talent development skills, writes,
“People are keenly aware of the massive shifts in business and society. And after the past few years of instability and dramatic flux, we have a visceral understanding that success today, as well as sustainable success and relevance tomorrow, depend upon ongoing learning and skills development.”
Julie is a master at painting the before and after picture when it comes to talent development as displayed in her article, Instilling A “ Just Skill Me ” Mindset at Your Company
Over a career your professional growth will depend on how well you develop your people.
The best indicator of how well you are developing your people is to measure how well they are meeting the demands of the business. CFO.University has developed a simple, yet powerful, tool to help gauge how your Accounting, Finance and Treasury (AFT) team is performing. The tool also provides insight into leadership, teamwork and growth capabilities. Use it to kick start deeper discussions on the performance of you team, Short Form AFT (Accounting, Finance, Treasury) Assessment
Choosing where to invest in your professional development
Professional development comes in all kinds of shapes and sizes. Job assignments, promotions, networking with peers, mentors/coaches, targeted education and certifications. But it should start with a plan.
To help with your plan CFO.University developed the CFO Readiness Assessment™. It measures the four primary proficiencies that drive the success of Chief Financial Officers.
At CFO.University we call proficiencies the Four Pillars of CFO Success:
Each pillar is further broken down into three core competencies, which are also included in the assessment.
If you are a CFO or on the CFO track, take the CFO Readiness Assessment™ and receive immediate feedback on where your investment in CFO skill development will have the highest payback. Read more about it here, Professional Development Tool: The CFO Readiness Assessment
Take control of your career
“ When it comes to career development, most people follow a similar path: go to college, get a job, work hard, get promoted. While this formula can work for some, it’s not the only way to achieve success in your career.”, writes James Perry.
He continues, “In fact, sometimes taking an unconventional approach can lead to greater opportunities and fulfilment. “ He goes on to highlight unconventional “… ways to take control of your career in the world of Accounting and Finance” in his article, 6 Unusual Ways to Take Control of Your Career Development
Career success is a team sport
Michael Jordan, the famous basketball star, is credited with this quote “Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence win championships.” Similarly, individual skills may get you a specific job, but teamwork and intelligence will make your career.
Dan Crumb, the CFO of the Kansas City Chiefs, the reigning Super Bowl Champion, describes his experience building winning teams from two perspectives; as a member of the Chief’s management team and as the leader of Chief’s CFO team.
In his CFO Talk he emphasizes the importance of trust, collaboration, and utilizing the collective knowledge and experience of all team members.
Especially important for CFO’s today, Dan talks about his role in developing a team with strong business intelligence and data analytics skills that has resulted in increased revenue streams and cost reductions across the organization.
He shares his approach to team development and how the Chief’s measure progress towards their four core goals: financial, employee treatment, brand development, and mission-driven objectives.
Take in Dan’s CFO Talk: What it Takes to Build Winning Teams (24:19)