Revamping Your Finance Processes: A Startup's Guide to Efficiency and CollaborationJul 07, 2023
Today, let's dive into a topic that's at the heart of a thriving startup - refining your finance processes.
As a Finance leader, I can't stress enough the importance of regular process reviews in achieving maximum efficiency and fostering collaboration.
Why Review Your Processes?
In the high-speed startup world, processes can rapidly become outdated or redundant. Sticking to these processes can be a severe drag on your efficiency, slowing down your financial operations, and causing unnecessary bottlenecks.
It's so easy to just continue with existing processes, but you have to ask yourself, "If the company doubled in size in the next 6 months, would my team and processes handle it?"
That's where the magic of process reviews comes in. A quarterly high-level review and a detailed annual check-up can help identify any gaps, inefficiencies, or duplications in your processes. This proactive approach can ensure your finance team is always running like a well-oiled machine. This is the cornerstone of being a great leader.
The 4 Pillars of Process Review
The first step in the process review is to look for opportunities for finance automation. Trust me, there's no point in manually crunching numbers or tracking invoices when you have a myriad of finance tools at your disposal. Automation not only saves time but also reduces errors, helping maintain the accuracy of your financial data.
Make a list of all the different functions of your Finance Department, Accounts Payable, Payroll, etc. Perhaps even use a traffic light system. Are each of these processes fully automated, heavily manual or somewhere in between? Focus on the areas that you gave a red....
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Next up is eliminating duplication.
Are two people working on the same task without realising it?
Is there an overlap in responsibilities?
Regular process reviews can help you spot such duplications and streamline your workflow, freeing up valuable resources.
I generally find duplication between departments rather than within departments - so focus on processes that go back and forth between multiple departments and see if there are duplications that can be eliminated.
Sometimes, less is more. Simplifying complex processes can boost productivity and make life easier for your team. For example, do you really need those ten steps for invoice approval, or can you bring it down to five?
I find this when a simple process has had many iterations due to the increase in volume or output requirements.
In these instances, take a step back, ignore what is currently being done and map out the perfect process. Then work out how to go from the current to the ideal.
Finally, collaboration. Remember, finance isn't a siloed function. It's essential to work closely with other departments, whether it's sales, marketing, or operations. Effective collaboration can help align your financial planning with overall business goals, drive transparency, and improve decision-making.
It is time to roll up our sleeves, plan and go through process reviews. It's an investment of time and effort, but the payoff in terms of efficiency, accuracy, and collaboration is well worth it. It's the only way to ensure that your processes and team aren't going to fall over when the volume increases!
Remember, your role as a Finance leader is more than just crunching numbers. It's about driving your team towards streamlined operations and maximum efficiency. And process reviews is one way to ensure that this happens.
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