Culture of anticipation: Key lever in the financial function
I would like to share with you all how the concept of «culture of anticipation» inspires us at Integra, to the point that it defines our purpose: “Our mission is anticipating the technology and strategy needs of our customers and our people, understanding their now and envisioning their future environment, making them capable of facing, with guarantees, the challenges of a new era.”
If we analyse the current context, especially from a financial point of view, we will see that we are in a Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous environment, otherwise known as VUCA environments. They are present in virtually any sector: services, industry, technology, banking and probably many others. VUCA environments force companies to adapt to changes at all times.
How could we face this context?
There are two key aspects: transformation and anticipation. In business, three pillars constitute any transformation’s DNA:
Applying a «culture of anticipation» to these three pillars, we will find some interesting «key levers» that will help transform our financial department and consequently our entire organization, adapting it to VUCA environments.
1. How to anticipate in processes
Promoting digital environments, that way employees, clients and partners can communicate from different places, at different times and in different languages in an effective manner. Many productivity solutions shine in this aspect, such as the Microsoft 365 Suite and specifically Microsoft Teams, their star product for collaboration.
Anticipating means acknowledging how these types of solutions are improving the productivity of teams in companies all over the world. We must anticipate as this process is happening very fast. Teams has only been in the market for some years and it is already Microsoft’s fastest growing platform.
A recent study on the impact of Teams in organizations published by Forrester shows information such as how collaboration and data sharing can save office employees up to 4 hours per week. Whether or not you work in a financial department, give it a thought: 4h/week per employee. We call this productivity.
Organizations, and more importantly financial departments, must always have in mind how quick circumstances change and that this requires a «dynamic» company culture. It is important to develop the ability to adapt to this changing reality in a dynamic way, taking into account any circumstance in order to make the most efficient decision. A dynamic focus of management requires an occasional paradigm shift: «planning» is now called «revising». Of course, all this change, and so quick, will collapse if it isn’t managed properly, which is why we must anticipate the Management of Change.
- Management of Change
I will give an example: these last few years there has been a huge demand for the implementation of productivity and collaboration tools such as the ones mentioned above, it’s very good seeing clients anticipate these needs!
But what has happened in most occasions? Change was not properly managed in the organization. We put Ferraris in the hands of employees that have been driving utility vehicles for years. You can imagine what happens in these cases.
Any technology solution implementation, change of tool, ERP, etc. doesn’t really follow the traditional process:
- And goodbye
It requires a parallel Management of Change process. As we like to say at Integra, THIS IS ABOUT PEOPLE!
Microsoft selected us as one of their strategic partners in Spain in order to train and certify us in the management of change methodology PROSCI. We are now able to help Microsoft correct, in large organizations, situations that appeared when trying to implement a very powerful tool without managing change adequately.
Anticipate! Surely, many of your companies are planning a change of ERP or the implementation of a Treasury Management solution such as SAGE XRT. However, you must consider the management of change process from the beginning, not when it’s too late.
2. Anticipating in people
As I have mentioned before, at Integra one of our mantras is «this is about people». Indeed, it is. The survival move is keeping our teams in constant training and updating their knowledge and competence. A corporate virtual campus is one of the many business solutions used to anticipate the need for constant training.
- Empowerment of people
«Empowerment» is a word we see in use a lot more nowadays, and I would like to introduce it in a different context. In July 2019, we had the occasion of participating in the global event for Microsoft partners in Las Vegas, Microsoft Inspire. There, Satya Nadella, the CEO of Microsoft, gave a speech about the clear need of empowering the «Citizen Developers». This means training people who are not «programmers» in the development of software solutions, all this with platforms that are easier to use as time goes by. Maybe some of you already use PowerBI to manage your financial dashboards, and it is possible some are making their first steps, creating and modifying dashboards.
We must keep moving forward, not only with solutions such as PowerBI, but also with others like PowerApp, which allows developing quick and simple solutions to connect different business solutions.
For instance, imagine the benefit brought to your company by developing a quick App for the commercial team that allows them to introduce receipts in real-time, pass an approval flow and register the accounting entry in an ERP.
Leaders that are able to inspire are required when it comes to empowerment, training and collaboration. Leaders in coaching that focus on developing others and boosting their capabilities. This will make leadership and business culture exponentially expand throughout the organization.
Developing emotionally smart leadership is also required by VUCA environments, this would allow people to connect with their teams’ needs, achieving the maximum connection between the members.
3. Anticipating technology
- AaaS (All as a Service)
Software as a Service, Infrastructure as a Service, Platform as a Service, Backup as a Service, Windows as a Service, Devices as a Service, and many others.
Cloud brought a revolution that is transforming the way of acquiring technology. If you work in a financial department, I won’t be the one to say which solution is better, CAPEX or OPEX, but I know that nowadays we can acquire most technologies in a pay-per-use modality.
Do you know the real capabilities of your organization’s data? How about the capabilities of applying these techniques?
- Business Intelligence
- Big Data
- Machine Learning
- Deep Learning
My advice: Do not pretend to know how to run before learning how to walk. We cannot miss a single step in the «journey» of data value:
- Knowing what happened – Descriptive Analytics
- Why it happened – Diagnostic Analytics
- What will happen – Predictive Analytics
- How to make it happen – Prescriptive Analytics
Compromising the security of a company means compromising its financial state, which is why we must always have security in mind. Have you ever received an SMS that requested 1€ as a custom’s fee? Have you heard of the CEO Fraud? The EMT of Valencia was involved in one of these frauds, which lost them 4M€ through social engineering techniques and phishing.
In 2019, Spain joined the World’s Top 10 Phishing Attacks. Anticipating means warning and training your employees, more importantly the financial personnel. Some efficient and simple solutions include the one offered by the security manufacturer SOPHOS, Phish Threat – Phishing attack simulation and training for your end users.
How would your employees respond to a phishing fraud? Are they trained and ready? Nothing better to know for sure than to use simulations that, other than identifying any security breach, educate and train the users to avoid them.
In a VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous) environment, anticipation is key. The tools, solutions and advices I talked about are just some of the many you can apply to face with guarantees the challenges of this new era.