Business transformation in the ‘next normal’
As we approach a post-pandemic world, businesses must now leverage what they’ve learnt to future-proof their operations, so that they can be prepared for a business landscape that has ultimately progressed from the ‘new normal’ to the ‘next normal’.
Businesses can no longer solely focus on financial data to assess their performance, drive long-term strategies and generate sustainable value. Essentially, people will be the key to business success.
The American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) and the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) conducted interviews with 34 companies across the USA, the UK, South Africa, Singapore and Brazil. Their report indicated seven good practices that businesses should implement to drive better business performance, namely:
- Have a clear line of sight between activities and strategy to help employees develop ownership and accountability.
- Factor in environmental and social impact into business values and day-to day decision-making to attract and retain talent.
- Engage employees with developing and refining business strategies to meet strategic objectives.
- Combine responsibilities for both strategic goals and functional excellence to sharpen performance.
- Improve cooperation and coordination across functional silos to optimise decision-making and resource allocation.
- Align personal objectives and incentives with organisational strategy at all levels of the business.
- Connect external and internal information with financial outcomes to ensure effective decision-making.
Digital transformation and finance
The primary aim of digital transformation is to solve challenges concerning efficiency, effectiveness and cost. Cloud computing, for example, will handle routine requests from business leaders, giving finance the opportunity to be more proactive.
With digital transformation, finance roles are changing. More will be required in terms of business partnering, advisory, reporting, planning, as well as tax, treasury, and more. These roles will continue to grow.
Employees must spend less time preparing data for analysis, and more time asking ‘What does this data tell me about the business?’ and ‘How can the business close gaps in performance expectations?’
Assign a team to learn how other organisations are using digital tools and automating finance processes. Examine one of your most labour-intensive processes and imagine eliminating it through automation. How would this change impact your organisation?
Focus on people
Your finance organisation should be looking at every new hire through the ‘next normal’ lens. Top companies see talent as their scarcest resource, and treat it as such.
Identify people in your organisation – as well as new hires – who exemplify the kind of talent you’re striving for, and get comfortable leading people with skills you don’t fully understand.
Be a business with purpose
Top-performing organisations know that purpose is both a differentiating factor and a must-have. A strong corporate purpose is a company’s unique affirmation of its identity and embodies everything the organisation stands for.
Future-ready companies recognise that purpose helps attract people to join an organisation, remain there, and thrive. Investors understand why this is valuable, and factor purpose into their decision-making.
Create a value agenda
Future-ready companies create a map that puts their ambitions and targets into tangible organisational elements such as business units, regions, product lines, and even key capabilities.
The key is to use the value agenda to focus the organisation’s efforts and instil a sense of what really matters in every employee. Organisations must be able to leverage this clarity – knowing exactly what differentiates them from everyone else.
Build a unique culture
Culture is that unique set of behaviours, rituals, symbols, and experiences that collectively describes the culture of the company. Among the most successful companies, culture forms the backbone of organisational health and fuels sustained performance over time.
To conclude, transforming a business to become future-ready during this unique time is a challenge that every business-owner must take on if they want to thrive in a constantly changing world and be around for whatever the next normal might be.