Being employed in the “Office of the CFO”, whether in a non-profit or Corporate America doesn’t usually come with a 40 hours work week. Granted, most jobs have peak hours and seasonalities which mean that you have to work a little longer to make the deadline ‘sometimes,’ but in the finance department, things are a little different. Working long hours and overtime is the norm in Finance, not ‘sometimes.’ Why?
Apart from meeting all the pre-defined deadlines, there is always some ad-hoc analysis that needs to be done—urgently. One problem is that most ad-hoc reports, once created, become a ‘standard report’ added to the already long list of standard reports.
But that’s only part of the problem. Financial reports must be checked for consistency; most reports have comparison and variance views compared to prior periods or current budgets and forecasts, and though this ‘reference data’ is perceived as ‘static’, this is not the reality. Organizations change constantly, and this means that the ‘reference data’ must be restated in order to present ‘true, fair and comprehensive view’ – in other words ‘apples-to-apples.’
And what about budgeting and planning? Ensuring a constant oversight of the forward looking financial views of the organization is a huge challenge, and honestly a task that is next-to impossible to keep up with. Recording history is one thing, but being on top of Planning as well is quite a challenge, not just because of the challenge of ‘thinking ahead’, but just as much because it requires involvement of ‘everybody else,’ not just finance. Finance doesn’t own the Sales Forecast, or the Marketing Plan, or the Manufacturing Operations.
So Finance needs to collaborate with non-finance—create processes and ensure consistency in execution of Planning. So ‘soft skills’ are needed in Finance too….
However, there is a light at the end of the dark tunnel of working in Finance. Automate, automate and automate.
Traditionally, Finance Professionals aren’t technologists, and Finance is not first in line to be served with new IT initiatives to enable Automation. In addition, in this conservative mindset of Finance and IT – automating Finance Processes, optimizing resources and eliminating data challenges is an expensive endeavor, requiring hundreds of thousands of dollars in investments, and return on investment is uncertain.
But there is another way… leveraging new cutting edge technologies – automating the ‘Office of the CFO’ and creating a better work/life balance for the people working there is within reach and achievable for less than you might think.