When was the last time you spoke to your finance team? To chase up late payment of an expense claim perhaps, or to confirm your budget for the year? Maybe you had problems finding details of a customer payment or a customer order? And I bet email was your choice of communication tool every time. Finance has historically been seen as a back office function where accountants are the people you talk to as a last resort to help you solve a problem. In turn, accountants have typically found that they spend all day problem solving, answering queries and putting out fires.
When you think about it, this makes no sense. Everything in business has some sort of financial impact, and will ultimately end in a debit or credit. So finance professionals can bring a particular, highly useful perspective to most business activities going on. If sales and finance collaborated earlier on putting together sales bids, or customer services brought finance in as soon as there was a client issue, then the business benefits could be massive. If the wall between front office interaction with customers and back office finance was torn down, the potential for improved responsiveness, better customer service and more efficient business processes is considerable.
Accountants need to be put front and centre to drive activity and process in the business, yet despite numerous attempts this hasn’t really happened. As alluded to in a previous blog post, FinancialForce.com will soon be announcing some work around collaborative accounting and Salesforce Chatter which will do just that; transforming the accounting function and its role within business. Whilst we are passionate about finance and financial processes, by extending this thinking, we can see huge benefits for the rest of the business too.