Posted on October 3, 2014

The business landscape is changing rapidly, and finance professionals need to take a more strategic role to help their organizations grow and succeed. Focusing time on manual administrative processes can take time and energy away from strategic initiatives. So what are some ways financial pros can take on a leadership role in their organizations?

The answer is to take the time to truly understand the business.

Who are the key players?

Develop active partnerships with each of the business units in your organization. Do you ever feel like finance and accounting are viewed as a hurdle, or just another stop on the approval process? The first step is to begin to network within your company and get to know the key players in each function.

Really listen to the needs and the headaches of your business partners and start to take a strategic approach to your relationship. Once finance is seen as a valued partner, those business units will come to you for advice and involve you in their decision-making processes. You’ll start to be seen as a hub of information for the business—information that can help influence the strategy and direction of the organization.

As you continue to build relationships, you’ll become a strategic advisor to your business partners instead of an obstacle.

What is the key data?

It’s not always about the quantity of data you’re providing, but about being selective and providing the most impactful data.

Start by identifying the Key Performance Indicators for your organization. What are the results your organization is trying to achieve? Is it generating new leads? Increasing your customer retention rate? Decreasing employee turnover?

Once you determine the desired results, start thinking about the three to five measurements that will help your company achieve these results. For example, if one of your primary goals is to decrease turnover in your organization, some key measurements might be the percentage of turnover in each department, exit interview data and the performance rating of the recent exits.

What is the key message?

Once you’ve identified the key metrics, the next step is to package the data. Gather the information you need to tell the full story behind the data – this might mean you need to research not only the financial data, but the non-financial data.

Think about what you can do to gather the data behind these KPIs more efficiently. How can you present the data in a more effective way? Ensuring that you have the right technology in place to maintain and easily report on this information can allow you to more clearly communicate high-level trends to the key players in your organization.

Finally, recommend an action plan; come prepared with suggestions for how these KPIs can be improved and what actions may result in the most significant return. Once you’ve built those relationships, your business partners will be looking to you not just to showcase the data, but to provide insights and offer advice on how to proceed.

Want to learn more about amping up your strategic effectiveness? Download the free whitepaper, The Financial Pro’s Guide: 5 Ways to Make an Impact at Work.