So you think you can innovate?
Time to close the talent gapRather than mainly delivering reports, Finance should be much more involved in outlining the direction of the organization. Building on the insights that they can deliver, Finance departments must then help to define a clear roadmap for achieving the company’s goals. That means breaking with their disposition to conservatism and with hiring only ‘traditional’ financial profiles. On the bright side, I’ve noticed that many CFOs are aware of the talent gap that needs to be bridged. Unfortunately, this change is happening very slowly. So the challenge will be to either attract these new, hybrid professionals or to develop the necessary skills internally – and quickly, before other departments step up to support the business with creative and future-oriented thinking.
Insights for growthIf Finance establishes a strong partnership with the business, it can play a pivotal role in ensuring that the organization makes the right trade-offs. By providing the relevant insights to different stakeholders, Finance can contribute to better alignment within the organization and hence stimulate profitable growth.
Let me illustrate that with an example. For many organizations, operational excellence and customer experience are equally crucial to stay competitive in today’s business context. That’s why multiple initiatives and projects are being launched to improve the company’s performance along both axes. However, the more you stretch one axis, the more you risk performing poorly on the other, i.e. the better you do in terms of operational excellence, the more likely it is that the customer experience will suffer, and vice versa. The KPIs for monitoring both type of projects are very often misaligned, or are even counterproductive. This reflects the organizational silos that are each reaching their own targets but not supporting shared goals.
Balancing operational excellence and customer experienceThat’s where Finance can add enormous value. By taking profitability insights into account, operational excellence and customer experience can be much better balanced to deliver long-term growth. In practice, this would mean that Finance takes on a more active role in supporting Supply Chain, for example, by delivering cost-to-serve insights that fuel the Sales and Operations Planning (S&OP) process. But that’s just one aspect of it.
In a future series of articles we will dive deeper into the topic of Finance performing the balancing act between operational excellence and customer experience. So stay tuned!
Author: Thierry Bruyneel. You can connect with Thierry on LinkedIn.