The key factors for a successful transformation of the Finance function – Part #3

#3 – CHOOSE THE TOOL SUITED TO YOUR NEEDS AND CHALLENGES

 

In a transformation project, choosing the solution is a crucial step. If you are aiming for agility, you will need an agile tool! If you require rigorous processes, the workflows may need to be complex and secure… Don’t worry, here are 5 tips to help you make the right choice.

 

#1 – MEET THE SUPPLIER…OR USE THE SERVICES OF EXPERT CONSULTANTS!

To select the suitable solution during a transformation project, don’t hesitate to meet the vendor in person to challenge them and obtain the information you need. Otherwise, put your trust in consultants! Certified by the vendors, they will be able to advise you on the tool best suited to your needs, drawing from their extensive knowledge of the different possible options as well as their practical experience of various types of company. For example, an SME may not have the same needs as a multinational company. Opting for a consultant means choosing made-to-measure among offers misrepresented as ready-to-wear!

 

#2 – DEFINE BENCHMARKS

Offers must be compared. Start by creating a comparative table with vendors, solutions, features that are truly relevant to you, module options, along with the corresponding prices. Involve stakeholders in the weighting of the features listed, and avoid selecting THE all-encompassing solution on the grounds of “he who can do more can do less”. It is rarely a winning move: relevance and consistency with your situation and needs require a more thorough analysis, which often leads to success.

 

#3 – IDENTIFY BUSINESS REQUIREMENTS

Selecting the solution is the first step. But for the implementation to work, the tool must be tailor-made. To do this, the business requirements which must be addressed by this new system must be identified.

Best way to identify them: organize workshops with the stakeholders in charge of these financial processes. They will be able to share their actual difficulties and, by doing so, to express needs. You can also prepare a list of questions. What will you use the tool for? Which reports should be automated? Which indicators are we interested in? Who will use the tool? How often? Will it be used on a tablet, smartphone or computer? Or all three? (…)

 

#4 – FOCUS ON EASE

When you look at key features, focus on the ease with which users may adjust the various functions and generate their own analysis reports, without having to use the IT department’s resources. The benefit is two-fold: the employees will be independent while the ISD will be able to devote itself to other projects. Choosing the software package with the most modules or the nicest interfaces is of course tempting. But handling should prevail: Without it, your tool will just be a beautiful car that nobody can drive.

 

#5 – THINK LONG TERM

A transformation project is deemed complete when users are fully independent. The project period is therefore far longer than the mere installation phase: it also involves training and initiation workshops. Think about the future of the tool after it has been delivered, about the after-sales service: how many times will the tool be upgraded? How will the tool be maintained? Will technical support be easy to contact? No slackening after delivery!

 

#4 – INVOLVE THE TEAMS AND AROUSE INTEREST

 

In the face of increasing digitization, a growing number of companies are taking initiatives to reinvent their business. However, 3 out of 4 transformation projects fail due to lack of long-term commitment from the stakeholders. How to stay the course in the long run?

 

#1 – REITERATE THE BENEFITS OF THE TRANSFORMATION PROJECT

Resisting change is a natural reflex. It is all the more daunting for employees if they think that “digitization” is synonymous with “dehumanization”. Yet, technology and human always go hand in hand! Financial transformation programs will only be fully effective and achieve cost savings if they invest primarily in employees, and their ability to use the solutions. Remind them of the rewarding benefits of a transformation project (capacity building, time saving) but also that the tool is primarily designed with them in mind.

 

#2 – RELY ON THE MANAGER AS “CHANGE CHAMPION”

To align the teams’ everyday actions with the company’s strategic vision, the management must be as involved as possible. The manager is the key to success. He/she becomes a “change champion”, making sure that teams are on board with the project by communicating a clear and articulate vision of change, combined with strong leadership. At the same time, he/she must also make sure that employees have the digital, human, technical and commercial skills required to support this change.

 

#3 – BE AS TRANSPARENT AS POSSIBLE

Transparency will ensure that employees understand the relevance of the project and that a positive dynamic may be created between the teams. In doing so, they will develop a sense of participating in a collective adventure with shared objectives. Conversely, lacking transparency may generate mistrust towards the project and give employees the impression that they are detached from it.

 

#4 – RUN THE COMMITMENT MARATHON!

Transformation is a lengthy process, which can take 12 to 36 months. Managing change means sustaining the commitment of every employee and a high, long-lasting level of motivation. The secret lies in regular, ongoing communication, consisting of daily reminders of the advances, achievements, objectives not to lose sight of, and the ultimate success that lies ahead.

 

#5 – PUT A TRAINING SYSTEM IN PLACE

Overcoming the fear of technical difficulty is one of the greatest challenges of the project. Employees will have to be actively involved in their own learning process. Opt for comprehensive, continuing and entertaining training.

 

#5 – SUCCESSFULLY COMPLETE THE PREPARATORY PHASE

 

By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail! The preparatory phase of a transformation project is without a doubt the most important step. It helps identify key individuals, the allocation of roles, the scope of intervention, etc. It is also during this phase that the criticality of each step is measured to avoid unpleasant surprises along the way.

 

1# – CLEARLY DEFINE EVERYONE’S ROLES AND RESPONSIBILITIES

We forget all too often to just sit down with our teams and clarify who is in charge of what. The implementation of a transformation project can take months. Be sure to know what team member is responsible for which activity or result. In this way, everyone knows exactly what they have to do, and nothing is left to chance. By clearly defining every responsibility, you improve the effectiveness of the project team, while also avoiding confusion or even potential conflict.

 

#2 – ASK THE RIGHT QUESTIONS TO LIMIT RISKS

It may be worth limiting the criticality of the project by asking clear questions which will cover all possible scenarios. What is the ideal deliverable date, and the deadline? What is our planned budget, and our maximum budget? What are the determinants of the final completion of the project?

 

#3 – CHOOSE THE RIGHT MANAGEMENT METHOD

The overall objective of project management is to standardize, structure and organize working methods. This will help align all projects in a similar manner, thereby replicating successful models and avoiding those that do not work by learning from our mistakes in an incremental way. This is known as continuous improvement. And this methodology will improve as it gets used, gradually adapting to the company’s “style”. Therefore a transformation project does not change the nature of the company but helps it become a better version of itself!

 

ARE YOU READY TO TRANSFORM?

 

READY FOR THE LAUNCH!

The 5 key factors presented in this white paper are derived from field expertise of more than 12 years.

Whatever the size of your company, our advice will help you launch your financial transformation project with complete peace of mind, and successfully complete it with a steady hand.

 

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Operating worldwide via its 5 sites in Paris, Montreal, Dubai, New York and Phnom Penh, Solution BI supports management projects for all business departments across the company, providing you with consultants certified by vendors.

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