How to Build a Forward-Thinking Finance Team

We’ve written before about how business strategy is evolving. For most businesses, today’s corporate world is fast-paced and competitive, and your organization needs to be adaptable and agile to take best advantage of opportunities as they emerge.

That forward-thinking strategy also applies to your finance team. The role of the CFO in particular is strategic, as the traditional budgeting and reporting models are not keeping up with the needs of today’s business environment. To accommodate for changing industry, and even world events, frequent reviews and updates are required and an annual budget can become irrelevant very quickly. Rolling forecasting is usually preferable but having the ability to do what-if scenarios is also critical, even when we could not really predict or even imagine some of the things that currently impact our day-to-day business tactics.

Your finance team needs to be able to focus on achieving short-term goals and long-term vision. You don’t want to lose the forest for the trees.

The next generation of financial leaders will need to:

  • Evolve from reporting on the past to planning for the future. Financial forecasting is more important than ever, and the past is no longer an indication of the future.
  • Be able to make faster, smarter decisions in less time. What-if scenarios and business models can take data from many sources to help guide decisions.
  • Know how to incorporate business automation into processes and capitalize on the savings of time and money. You need time to analyze; automating repetitive processes can help give you that time.

These three pillars — forecasting, effective use of data analytics to create business intelligence, and business automation — will help your finance team go far. But how can you get them there?

  1. Set an Example

Basically, walk the talk. If there is a behavior you want your finance team to adopt, model it for them. For example, if you want your team to use more data analytics in their decision making, give them the tools they need to access and analyze the data and use it yourself.

  1. Create Clear Strategic Goals and Expectations

It’s important that your team understand where the company wants to go and it’s important that you communicate expectations to your team. If you want them to embrace forward-thinking decision making, they need to know what they are working to achieve on a high level and then how what they are doing connects to that high-level goal. Periodic check-ins help reinforce, but also give you a mechanism to communicate changes as necessary. This creates a culture of ongoing alignment.

  1. Choose Business Solutions That Help Focus on Analysis

The right tools can make a huge difference to your team’s forward-thinking ability. As an example, if they are spending all their resources administrating the budget, how can they have time to analyze and monitor, to see if what they’re doing is working?

New business automation technology is really changing the game, especially for finance departments. Small items, such as automating the employee expense process, can free up a lot of time and energy that can be turned to analysis and data review. The same is true for budgeting and business intelligence solutions. Today’s technology can automate much of the administrative work, reduce human errors, and make collaboration much easier. The key is finding the tools that work best for your team.

Technology such as predictive analytics is creating financial forecasts that are faster, more frequent, and more accurate. Foundational financial skills remain a must for any finance team, but so does business acumen, technological know-how, and good decision-making skills.

At SHEA Global, we can help make sure your finance team is as forward-thinking as possible. Whether it’s finding you the right tools, helping you streamline your financial processes, or creating customized training for your staff, we can get the job done.

Learn more about our services by calling 905-470-6830 or visit