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Six ways to improve your finance department in 2019

15th Jan 2019
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Have you set any resolutions for your working life in 2019? If not, here are a few for starters.

Identify your financial goals

You can’t plan a journey without knowing where you’re trying to get to. Are you and everyone in your team clear on the wider business goals and what the finance team needs to do to support them?

 Is the business planning to grow? Are you planning acquisitions? Do you want to improve profitability? Is the intention to invest in infrastructure?

 As always, the key is to make the answers SMART – specific, measurable, actionable, relevant and time-bound – in order to maximise the chances of achieving them. And when you have them you’ll have knowledge that will influence your decision-making and help you set financial objectives for this year and beyond.

 Assess your financial health

As you approach the end of the financial year, now is a good time to take a look at the bigger picture of the finances of your business.

Does your cashflow need work? Are your profit margins cause for concern? Is your debt manageable? How is your credit rating? Is your tax planning under control?

By undertaking a thorough financial audit you can understand where the strengths and weaknesses lie. More importantly, you can take action where it’s needed.

Track your budget

Understanding spend is the first step to controlling it. Take the time to track and analyse spend on a regular, frequent basis. When you do this you can spot trends and patterns – areas where spend is routinely too high, times of year when there are peaks and troughs. Once you’re equipped with this information you’re equipped to manage spend more effectively.

Automate your processes

Every finance professional knows the importance of analysis. Every finance professional also knows there’s rarely enough time to do all the analysis they’d like.

When processes are manual and paper-based, a lot of time is wasted in gathering information. Worse, the information often isn’t in a format that’s easily interrogated or aggregated.

Moving paperwork to the cloud and automating the processes that sit behind them is the answer. Typically, every finance employee in a small or medium-sized business saves 500 hours a year when an integrated expense, travel and invoice solution is in place. That’s a lot of time to do more useful analysis.

Educate your team

You use your finance expertise and experience to guide the business. But how often do you use it to support the employees within it?

For example, from 6 April 2019, automatic enrolment workplace pension scheme contributions will increase again.

As the finance expert in your business you will be looking at how you will accommodate the additional employer costs (assuming you aren’t already paying more than the required minimums). But what role could you play in explaining the additional costs to employees and stressing the importance of saving into a pension?

Celebrate the successes and never mind the lapses

It’s good to start new habits and exciting when they stick. But if you set out expecting an all-or-nothing change you’re setting yourself up for failure. Research suggests it takes an average of 66 days to set a new habit. So start with the best intentions, but if you lapse, don’t worry about it, just jump back into the habit confident in the knowledge you’re heading in the right direction.