Today finance professionals face an unprecedented array of challenges due to mounting cost pressure, increasingly complex technologies, and growing regulatory demands. In addition to their traditional responsibilities of reporting, M&A activity, and debt offering, they are taking on special projects that reach far beyond finance. Yet many finance professionals have had little exposure to process improvement, project management, and technology implementation.
Leveraging Regulatory Compliance Efforts
Initial regulatory efforts focused on compliance and meeting filing deadlines. Understandably, process improvement efforts were deferred. Now that public companies have overcome the Sarbanes-Oxley regulatory challenge, they have begun to focus on driving improvement within the finance organization. Many companies are resuming projects that were shelved during early compliance efforts and starting new projects based on Sarbanes-Oxley analysis.
The good news is that in the wake of Sarbanes-Oxley and other regulatory burdens, many companies have allocated additional resources for finance and process improvement.
Finance’s Expanding Role
Simultaneously, the role of finance is expanding beyond traditional accounting and reporting functions. Finance is taking a leadership role in promoting efficiency and improving performance.
A study by CFO Magazine Research Services demonstrates the broadening responsibilities of finance. Survey respondents were asked whether finance should LEAD or SUPPORT a variety of reporting and oversight roles. The survey asked respondents first to describe the current situation and then to anticipate the role of finance in 2 years time.
The most noteworthy increases between now and two years from now were in the general management roles: Guarantor of operations efficiency up 23% and Responsible for non-financial performance management up 26%.
This intersection of high visibility and increasing responsibility for process improvement is a career-making opportunity for finance professionals. A chance to not only develop their own talents but to promote growth for the finance team as a whole.
Top finance leaders are honing their project management and change leadership skills in order to make the most of this career break and generate lasting value for their companies.
This is one of a series of posts on project management for finance professionals. The series features practical project management advice and tips for driving process change using technology. The series is archived here.