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Fostering collaboration between finance and business teams

By Jean-Baptiste Sachot, 2:25 PM on August 10, 2017


Here’s something you already know: your company’s finance team relies on operations, and operations often needs finance’s help. That’s why it's so important that the various teams within a company communicate as openly as possible. An improved setup and standardised tools are essential for closer collaboration – and that’s a huge challenge. So, how do you take it up?

Finance should make the first move

All too often, the finance department gets a bad rap within a company: it’s seen as killjoy central. They talk about nothing but figures, calculations and margins whereas operations talk about projects, ideas and innovations. The finance team have their calculators on the table whereas operations draw inspiration from more exciting sources.

You have to overcome this culture clash to get finance and business teams working better together.

To kick off, finance teams have to be more actively involved in project planning – this is where they can show their added value. They should spend time listening to what everyone has to say, examine the issue carefully and look beyond the numbers: here’s what we can and can’t do, what the possible outcome is and how we can all work together as a team.

Naturally, finance teams are a little in the dark when it comes to the day-to-day realities of business. Not so operations teams, which are in direct contact with clients. Finance teams need more regular input from operational teams than vice versa, so it’s up to finance to build bridges with operations.

They should get stuck in on project committees and answer questions by offering solutions, not by highlighting problems. Finance teams should provide an alternative view of the project while still showing that they are on top of the key points.

They should demonstrate that their rigorous approach isn’t meant to kill off the project but to give it its best chance of success.

Why it’s important to standardise company tools

What if business tools were an excellent way of fostering closer collaboration between teams? And what if management software could help you break down the traditional barriers that divide departments and make communication tricky?

Well, they are and they can. Just by using collaborative tools you can help build bridges between teams and kick-start more effective collaboration.

Here’s an example: your company could have one single platform to house both finance features (accounting and viability) and operational features (project management).

Read also: Salespeople and Consultants - a Love-Hate Relationship.

So when it comes to choosing an ERP solution, you need your finance and business teams to work well together. After all, they are two sides of the same coin.

The human touch: putting clients back at the heart of cross-team communication

When you stop using several different tools and start using one combined software program, it feels a bit like going from telegrams to instant messaging. Communication is easier and quicker. Links between colleagues and within the company are tighter. And you all tend to start speaking the same language.

And that’s the client’s language. It’s a language that operational staff speak fluently and one that support staff have to master if they want to improve how they communicate with the rest of the company. There’s no secret method here: learning a new language means talking to those who speak it well.

Simply by mixing up offices and holding cross-departmental meetings, you can help bring your teams closer together, physically and digitally.

A close working relationship between finance and operations is a must. And it relies on getting people together and sharing tools. Mix up teams, move offices closer together and encourage more interaction. After all, there is a real person behind every keypad.

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