Agility in Finance Departments

Agile, we all have heard about this latest management trend. Until recently, Agile was seen as a set of management practices related to software development. Nowadays Agile is spreading to all types of organizations, since Agile is seen as the only way for organizations to master continuous change in nowadays world which is volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous. Agile contains small deliveries, instead of a ‘big bang’ launch. Results are evaluated continuously, so responding to change can be done more quickly. This article will zoom in on how to effectuate an Agile approach in our finance departments in 5 steps.

  1. Finance needs to support the business with providing relevant information

Off course, there are regulations and IFRS standards to meet regarding reporting obligations. But besides these essentials: how much internal reports are generated on a periodical base? Are these all needed? Keep in contact with your internal customers and ask them what information on what timeframe they need in order to manage the company. Reporting is a tool to manage the company, and not a goal on itself.

  1. Standardize and optimize recurring transactions

This second advice might sound like an open door, but if you can reduce your team’s workload by optimizing and standardizing recurring transactions more time becomes available for other important things, such as improvement projects supporting the business.

  1. Implement a step-by-step approach

So, the strategic dot on the horizon is placed, but what about the way to get there? Nowadays, in a fast-changing business environment the way to get there might not be a straight path. Disruptive events might occur along the way, therefore it is recommendable to implement change step-by-step instead of launching a ‘big-bang’. Be aware that the placed dot on the horizon might be replaced regularly, in case the business environment is changing.

  1. Continious Monitoring

Continious monitoring is a result of a step-by-step approach (see 3). Since our business environment is changing continuously, we need to continuously monitor if our solution or improvement meets the business needs and if progress is made.

  1. Empower your team

As a manager: firstly, strive for ‘good enough’ solutions. Secondly, support your team on helping them to focus and prioritize. Finally, explain the ‘what’ and the ‘why’, delegate the ‘how’ to the team.

Resources:

‘What is Agile?’ by Steve Denning (Forbes)

‘Is the Agile manifesto still a thing?’ by Claire Drumond (Atlassian Agile Coach)

The Change Management Podcast: S2E3. The Agile Way

The Agile C-suite, Harvard Business Review May-June 2020.

About the author

Eef Michielsen is working as an interim financial over 5 years, she graduated in Business Administration and Change Management. In 2019 Eef founded M2-Consulting. M2-Consulting combines finance hard skills, change management and experience in order to deliver sustainable, stakeholder driven solutions to her customers.
M2-Consulting Agility in Finance