The year 2020 was an extremely challenging one for CFOs and their companies. But you persevered – and learned a lot of important lessons.
From remote work and digital transformation to personnel changes and reallocated budgets, your finance team worked hard to develop its technical skills and adapt to new processes and plans.
What’s more, the hurdles in 2020 helped Finance improve its soft skills, too. Whether it was leading through uncertainty, showing empathy for co-workers, problem solving together or communicating in new ways, you became more thoughtful, well-rounded professionals.
Now, many of these changes are becoming a permanent part of the workplace, shaping a “new normal.” So, as you move forward, it can help to reflect on the lessons learned and what they mean for Finance’s future. Here are several lessons to consider:
Lesson 1: Be prepared for anything
Let’s be honest. No finance pro rang in the 2020 new year thinking a worldwide pandemic was around the corner and the way they work would shift so drastically.
For many, COVID-19 revealed a sharp truth: Companies weren’t really prepared for anything. Many didn’t have a remote work policy. Some lacked strong internal communication. Others realized their processes were too tied to an office space.
The takeaway: CFOs and other finance pros must stay on their toes and look for gaps in continuity. From payments and paychecks to data storage and fraud controls, be sure every measure in place supports a “prepared for anything” mantra.
Lesson 2: Remote is feasible
Before the pandemic, some companies used remote work as a perk for finance staffers. Others felt such an intrinsic, sensitive role – handling company money – should take place in an office. During the pandemic, though, there wasn’t a choice. And people saw remote work can actually work.
That said, many will eventually return to an office environment. So, how can you bridge the two?
First, look at your team’s responsibilities. See what works well from home and what works better in the office. Next, talk to your staff. Ask for their preferences, pain points, ideas, etc. Your own assessment paired with your staff’s input will help you develop a long-term plan.
Lesson 3: Digitize and optimize
Though finance technology has been around for years, some companies have still clung to manual processes. But no more! COVID-19 showed those behind the technological curve that digitization is necessary. In 2020, some companies quickly invested in new software; others had to work with what they had, optimizing every feature that could speed up processes.
Carry that sentiment going forward: Invest and expand technology when you can. And when you can’t, get innovative with IT and look to better use what you already have.
Lesson 4: Do more with less
While 2020 brought some good lessons, that’s not to say it didn’t bring immense difficulties. Many companies struggled or took a big financial hit. So, not only did Finance have to work in new ways, it had to work in smarter ways. And doing more with less will continue to be important as companies recover and figure out their paths.
Encourage your finance team to stay alert for ways you all can work smarter and save money – whether it’s increasing productivity, eliminating redundant process steps, renegotiating with trading partners or reducing internal costs.