In the past decade, the approach to planning, reporting, and regulatory reporting projects has predominantly focused on upgrading and automating systems to improve corporate performance management. However, as understanding of new technologies has evolved and organisations have become increasingly aware of the opportunities they present, expectations have shifted.
There is now a concerted effort towards greater integration across business processes, aiming to create a cohesive operational model that interlinks strategy, finance, and operations. This evolution in corporate performance management extends beyond the realm of finance, impacting overall business performance.
The following key points, while seemingly straightforward and well-known, are critical and often undervalued in the realm of finance projects. Paying close attention to these areas can significantly enhance the effectiveness of any finance project & improve corporate performance management:
- Begin with the Objective in Mind: Define the ultimate goal of your project. Engage in process benchmarking, involving the right personnel to evaluate the efficacy of your planning and reporting processes. Familiarise yourself with the KPIs of high-performing companies and review case studies to understand how such levels of performance are achieved. This approach provides a solid foundation for identifying areas of focus.
- Embrace Best Practices: Continuously benchmark your processes to ensure alignment with industry standards. Engaging the appropriate experts for brief sessions can facilitate a comprehensive assessment of your planning and reporting processes, guiding you to focus on the most impactful areas.
- Prioritise Customer Experience: Understand that customer and supplier relationships are integral to organisational dynamics. Conduct customer experience workshops early in your project to consider various perspectives, thereby reducing the risk of designing a process that favours one group over others. Decisions should be made based on informed judgments about prioritising needs.
- Recognise the Change Aspect: Implementing a new planning, consolidation, or management reporting process is fundamentally a change management project, not just a system implementation. Emphasise communication, education, and stakeholder engagement, ensuring that the technical solution is complemented by a well-planned approach to managing the human elements of the project.
- Effective Communication is Key: Communication is paramount in all projects. Beyond having a communications plan, it’s essential to engage stakeholders actively and innovatively. Use design-thinking workshops and other inclusive strategies to build consensus and shared understanding of the key issues. Treat communication as an ongoing, integral part of the project & corporate performance management.
- Project Management Excellence: Achieving your goals requires a robust plan and diligent performance tracking. Effective project management and governance are critical, with a focus on stakeholder engagement and adhering to strict governance protocols. Select your project manager based on their relevant experience and ability to anticipate potential challenges.
- Mitigate Risks in Finance Change Projects: Finance planning and consolidation projects are inherently high-profile and carry significant risks. Establish a comprehensive risk management process, considering technical, people, organisational, and dependent project factors. Seek advice from experienced professionals who can offer insights into risk mitigation.
- Balance in Project Delivery: Weigh the pros and cons of a ‘Big Bang’ approach versus phased delivery. Finding a balance that suits your organisational culture is crucial. Consider adopting a phased approach, evaluating various scenarios to determine the most effective mix of deliverables.
- Strategic Team Design: Successful project delivery relies on a well-coordinated team. Focus on early team building and ensure a balanced skill set, blending technical and finance process expertise. Monitor the team against key activities and keep options open for adjusting resources as the project evolves.
- Continual Improvement: Post-implementation, establish a process for ongoing evaluation and improvement. Leading companies often set up a ‘Value Management Office’ (VMO) for this purpose. Regularly review process performance metrics to identify areas for continuous enhancement.
To further enhance your planning and reporting framework, consider scheduling a quick chat with a senior AIS consultant. We can provide invaluable insights for your finance improvement projects.