Carlson Thought Leadership in Finance & Technology

Strategies for Cultivating a High-Performing Finance Team

November 29, 2018 / by Ethan Carlson

KPIs - ImageAs a finance leader, your goal is to build and cultivate a high-performing team that delivers actionable information, executes on strategy and stays ahead of issues. You also recognize that an effective way to evaluate business performance within your team and organization is to define and track your key performance indicators (KPIs). At Carlson, we have helped many organizations lay the foundation for developing and empowering high performance teams.

Here are several strategies and KPIs that you can use to elevate your team’s success.

Embrace Best-in-Class Technology

The finance organization has been frequently regarded as slow in adopting the latest innovative technologies. For example, many finance teams continue to rely on spreadsheets for budgeting, planning, and reporting. Even though spreadsheets can be useful for ad hoc analysis, they have limitations and, in some cases, create nightmare scenarios. When your organization is gaining momentum in revenue, growth, and headcount, it’s an opportunity to move away from non-scalable tools and upgrade to sophisticated financial systems.

Cloud-based corporate performance management (CPM) systems, including Adaptive Insights, are recognized as one of the most transformative solutions for finance and provide tremendous value to a variety of industries. What benefits do they bring to finance teams? Firstly, they automate manual processes, thereby giving you time to devote to high-priority action items. Secondly, they effectively distribute budgets, forecasts, reports, and dashboards based on a unified set of data throughout your organization to ensure everyone is on the same page.

For more information on implementing Adaptive Insights, please download our guide:

Download the Carlson Guide

High-performing finance teams leverage best-in-class technology to succeed. Specifically, they embrace modern innovations in ERP, CPM, integration, and more. In our experience, cloud solutions offer the most exciting possibilities and greatest returns on your investment.

Success Begins with Strategy

Your success depends on your ability to put perspective into action. Do you know your organization’s strategy to make your vision happen? It’s important for you to have this insight; after all, finance leaders should be generals as well as foot soldiers.

To begin, ensure your budget aligns with strategy. Every budget cycle should kick-off with executive-level engagement and discussion. Participants should understand how strategy translates into business tactics, as well as how each employee will contribute to the success of the strategy.

Want to learn more about creating true alignment? This blog post shares how you can create a culture of inclusion, visibility, and empowerment that’s essential to aligning budget with strategy.

Be an Agent of Change

As a finance leader, you have significant influence upon the organization’s future. In addition to funding key initiatives, you can be the driving force for change. To achieve transformation, you must move to the frontlines of action in your organization.

To accomplish this, finance leaders must speak the language of stakeholders throughout the business to help them succeed. This necessitates that you understand the jargon and non-financial KPIs that are used in sales, operations, R&D, production, and more.

As you collect financial and operational data, it’s imperative you track, analyze, and communicate these important metrics on a consistent basis. For example, have you identified an upward trend in customer churn? That’s an observation that should be put under the microscope immediately to reveal the causes. In so doing, you can put a corrective course of action in motion, which reverses the trend and improves retention rate.

By being an agent of agent, you have the opportunity to proactively resolve issues and implement strategic initiatives that best serve the interests of your organization.

Cultivating the Finance Team

It’s common knowledge that building a high-performing finance team is a challenge. Top performers may move to different organizations to advance their careers, especially when the economy is doing well. With this loss in money and human capital, comes a decrease in competitive advantage. Does your organization provide a career path that motivates your employees and supports their careers? Have you defined the KPIs of employee engagement?

World-class organizations provide a path to career advancement for their employees. Specifically, they create mentorship opportunities to help team members navigate the terrain of business. As a leader, it’s important to keep in mind what matters to your employees. What motivates them? What makes them feel successful? By identifying these factors, you can provide personalized incentives and nurture their talents for the long-term success of your organization.

Always be Evaluating

These KPIs will give you the foundation for success. Remember that progress comes with continuously refining and evaluating your KPIs. Even though it’s a continuous process, it’s well worth the effort when you experience greater performance from more effective teams.

Begin Your Finance Transformation

Would you like to position your finance team for success? Carlson Management Consulting is an award-winning partner of Adaptive Insights, the worldwide leader in cloud-based business planning solutions for organizations of all sizes.  In addition to Adaptive Insights implementations, our consultants impart “best in class” finance processes based on almost 400 successful client engagements. 

To begin your finance transformation today, please contact us for a discovery call.


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