Take Your Finance Team from Reactive to Proactive to Drive Revenue

Take Your Finance Team from Reactive to Proactive to Drive Revenue

It’s time to stop dreading the end of each financial period and take control. In this blog post, we explain how finance leaders can go from reactive to proactive to drive revenue with the help of an often-ignored tool in their financial arsenal: The humble rebate.

The Current State of Finance Teams

The end of the month, quarter, or year is stressful for finance teams. Data needs to be gathered, reported on, analyzed, and presented. Then there are accruals to deal with, errors to rectify, and systems to wrangle to ensure accurate reporting. In an administratively heavy world, the chaos is controlled with just enough time to do it all over again the next period. In SOA People, Paul Smitherman says, “You feel relatively ok when this process is reasonably under control, but does it leave you enough time proactively steer your company on the basis of the figures? Does all this financial data yield something valuable, or is it purely an obligation to satisfy the auditors?”

In most cases, the challenge lies with the never-ending cycle of reactivity. It’s understandable, to a certain extent. In the Journal of Accountancy, Cheryl Meyer acknowledges that the pace of life, in general, has accelerated – thanks in large part to technology. It’s up to finance teams to adapt to this change. “They need to plan, take control, analyze processes, be more interactive, and anticipate problems before they happen. In other words, they need to be proactive.” 

Downsides of Being Reactive 

It’s great to be able to answer questions posed by the business and be a source of truth for financial insight. It’s not okay to spend so much time pulling data from disparate sources and munging it together to make meaning that your team doesn’t have time to do more. 

Reactive finance teams spend more time putting out fires and less time planning. As a result, there’s no time to look ahead, running the risk that the business won’t be prepared for crises or unexpected events.

Benefits of Being Proactive

There is an alternative. By gaining control of your systems, processes, and transactions, you can shift the balance in your finance team and go from reactive to proactive. The benefits are that proactive finance teams:

-       Tend to be better organized

-       Are more creative, in control, and forward-thinking

-       Are perceived to be more valuable to colleagues, customers, and the organization

-       Save time as a result.

Prioritization allows you to focus on activities that will make the biggest impact. Finance is more likely to be seen as a true business partner – not a data analysis machine – and you’ll enjoy the benefit of faster period closure and consolidation.

Brian Montgomery, Finance Director at Workday, is quoted in Raconteur, saying that in the wake of an unstable economy and constantly shifting consumer behavior, CFOs need to provide data-led insights in real-time to help the business pivot quickly. “Agility has become the number one priority, and that’s what the CFOs of the future are aiming to achieve,” he says.

How to Make the Transition Today

Agility, rapid closing, more accurate reporting, and being able to support the business better sound great. But how can finance teams make the time to be strategic, look ahead, and forecast potential issues? It’s all about connecting the dots between your processes, people, and technology. As Lia Pinto says in The Abacus Blog, “Focusing on implementing tools that use real-time data and also finding ways to integrate all of your systems is paramount to creating a proactive finance process.”

There are a few simple ways to transition from proactive to reactive. Firstly, create a ‘to-don’t’ list. Then, let technology be your enabler. Focus on using tools that will help you stop spending days manually collating information to produce reports and spend minutes creating on-demand reports that lead to greater business insight instead.

Don’t forget, however, that shifting from reactive to proactive requires a whole-organization approach. Lia reminds us, “As the team shifts towards a proactive process, it’s important to realign the expectations from influencers and stakeholders as well. The whole company needs to be on board to fully make the switch.”

It's also vital to be patient and engaging. Change doesn’t happen overnight; even the best tools in the world will only take you so far. You’ll need to bring people with you as part of this new approach. As Marianne Curphey says in Raconteur, “finance leaders need to ensure they have the skills, not just the technology, to lead through change” as digital transformation accelerates.

The Benefits of Shifting Your Finance Team from Being Reactive To Becoming Proactive

Leverage the power of your real-time data by focusing on your impact. If you’re using the right tools, the data will help show how you have evolved and where you can make further improvements. The Raconteur article sums it up nicely: “going forward, CFOs must collaborate with other departments, from human resources to sales and IT, to help drive more agile decisions across the organization.”

We agree.

That’s why Enable has one of the most powerful, easy-to-use rebate management platforms on the planet – to improve collaboration and drive agile decision-making.

Do you want more financial control and to be in a stronger position to proactively manage those parts of the business that, when dealt with efficiently, help you decrease costs and potentially even turn rebates from a cost center to a profit center? It’s not a pipe dream. CFOs can use strategic rebate initiatives to drive revenue

When you’re ready to move from reactive to proactive rebate management, get in touch. Or start your free trial of Enable’s powerful rebate management software now.

Elizabeth Lavelle

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