This article was written by Dillon Beard and Andy Nicholls at Clearsulting—one of BlackLine’s North American Platinum Partners.
F&A Professionals: How Well Are You Communicating?
Probably not as well as you think. It’s a hard truth, but it’s one you can—and should—address. Here’s why it’s worth improving.
Many finance leaders are downstream from much of the data that informs their decision making—data that illustrates how you close the books, how the business is run, and how you plan. The departments curating this data have historically been siloed from finance, and oftentimes don’t fully understand your strategy, approach, and needs. Nothing can go wrong there … right?
Overcome Disconnects with Communication, Processes & Governance
For starters, it’s time for departmental silos to become a thing of the past. Encouraging cross-channel communications and openly sharing data, information, and objectives can lead to uncovering more insights and better outcomes for the organization. It’s also table stakes if you want to thrive in a data-driven world.
Make sure that you clearly share your strategy, so those impacted understand what you want to accomplish by implementing a technology like BlackLine. Take it a step further by getting them invested in what you hope to achieve, validate, and react to further down the road using data driven by the technology.
Without this vital communication, control of precious data lives with departments that may not fully understand your goals. As a result, they can’t help you protect data integrity while identifying trends and insights. After all, how can you trust data—and insights driven by it—if you’re not confident in how you got that information in the first place?
To help with the communication piece, you should identify an internal liaison (if you don’t have one already) to keep everyone on the same page. It’s critical that the person in this role can interpret business needs, translate them to various groups across your organization, and establish controls to realize the outcomes you want.
Beware, though. Simply putting a figurehead in place won’t solve everything. You need metrics to understand the effectiveness of the liaison role. The right KPIs can help indicate if the bridge you’re building across leaders and departments is truly helping solve gaps in communication and comprehension.
A governance structure also helps with making sure communication is happening and that departments have only the data they need (focus is key!). You also need to understand and weigh the competing priorities of all departments from a data perspective for your BlackLine implementation (or really any technology implementation) to be successful. Because upstream processes can influence downstream results you’re reporting on, getting everyone aligned helps you produce better results and build confidence in the leadership community.
Focus On What Matters
Bottom line: concentrate on what’s meaningful to you, your business strategy, and your people. That will always be a winning approach.
Beyond that, you should view technology as a catalyst—never a silver bullet to solve your problems. Tools and technology help you make informed decisions. It’s even more useful when you can translate outputs from your tools into dashboards that help you enhance, understand, and drive your organization to the next level of effectiveness maturity. However, you have to be confident about the underlying data. That’s where communication, processes, and governance make a difference.
For more insights, tune into Clearsulting’s discussion on the importance of fostering relationships at every level of your organization and the value of taking a thoughtful approach to organization-wide communication and collaboration.
Clearsulting’s sweet spot is helping finance become a better partner to your business. With our innovative thinking, we’re able to develop sustainable solutions that allow teams to drive results and work better, together. We operate across the US and Europe, and specialize in record-to-report, treasury, finance effectiveness, risk advisory, and enterprise performance management services.