Congratulations! As the newest member of the Finance leadership team, you’re taking on a big responsibility. So now what?
You’ve already proven you know finance and can get things done. But being in leadership is different. Your focus now is determining what’s most important, what’s working and not working, and where you can spend your time to have the most influence and make the most impact.
So where to begin? The first 90 days of any new role is crucial as you learn, gather data, and build a plan. These 6 recommendations will guide you towards success in your new Finance leadership role.
- 1. Perform your own audit
- 2. Assess your finance team
- 3. Build bridges into the business
- 4. Develop your plan
- 5. Communicate your regular processes with data
- 6. Capitalize on your clean slate
- Conclusion: look well beyond day ninety
1. Perform your own audit
Obviously, understanding the current financial state of your business is critical for a Finance leader, so start there. Dig deeply into the financial and operational metrics and weigh them against the strategic priorities of the business. The strategy and priorities will depend on company size, industry, stage. Your company might be focused on hyper-growth, or on cutting costs, or controlling EBITDA. The as-is business situation will give you a better understanding of what you need to do and the effort required to get there, so use the data to determine gaps, identify challenges, and find opportunities to improve your odds of success.
2. Assess your Finance team
You’ll only be as successful as the people, processes, and technology on your team allow you to be. Your new role gives you a better perspective on what’s really important, what can be improved, and what’s blocking your potential. Address gaps early before they become challenges. Bring in new hires, re-architect key processes, and find new technology to fuel your early wins. Data, analytics, and insights are what drives Finance in 2021, and flexible, modern FP&A solutions like Cube give you the power and agility to work faster and smarter. They also give Finance more accuracy and confidence, which turns into more progress and success for you and your company.
3. Build bridges into the business
Finance is the hub of any business. And that means you need to rely on strong, collaborative relationships with peers and leaders across the business to do your job well. This includes pulling data from the business, and pushing insights back out to the business to inform their plans and guide their actions. Take time now to build or strengthen your connections to every area of the business, automate data gathering, and infuse easy collaboration technology into those relationships. Remember, you’re there to help your business partners be successful. Do so by speaking their language, streamlining the budgeting, planning, and other interactions with Finance, and showing them you’re there to make them successful.
4. Develop your plan
Now it’s time to craft a plan of action. Based on what you’ve assessed so far, prioritize 2-3 business metrics you can improve or high-impact initiatives you can deliver on fast. Don’t try to do everything all at once. It’s better to do a couple things really well then to do a bunch of things that never quite get finished. Make sure to get buy-in from the business by explaining how your initiatives will benefit them and help achieve the company’s strategic priorities. Early wins will build credibility and trust, and give you more influence on day 90 and beyond.
5. Communicate regular progress with data
Your success relies on the CEO and the other business leaders recognizing your progress, so make it easy for them to understand. Metrics are the common language of business, but you’ll need to tell a story that explains the progress, expectations, and benefits in simple terms, not financial jargon. Be the storyteller who adds the context of vision, priority, timeline, and achieving c-suite goals. Also, remember that technology is your friend. Make everything easier and faster with business software to automate reporting, provide access to deeper analytics, and increase accuracy, so you can craft your story with speed, clarity, and confidence.
6. Capitalize on your clean slate
A new leader brings with them the opportunity to take a new approach, transform Finance, and make significant moves. It’s your time to wipe the slate clean and take control. That gives you a lot of leeway to reevaluate how Finance and the broader business operates. It can be an opening to influence areas like corporate culture, health and wellness, innovation, diversity and sustainability, and more. But, being a Finance leader, anything you propose must be backed up with data to make your case, justify investments, and forecast returns. So make sure you have the solutions and technology in place now to support your initiatives later.
Look Well Beyond Day Ninety
Stepping into a finance leadership role is a big responsibility, but it’s one you’ll be ready for by following these best-practices. Remember that you can only do as well as your people, processes, and technology allow, so work on those first. Then use your storytelling skills to put the data to work guiding the business and reinforcing your success.