Business leaders are often visionary, but it takes more than vision to succeed. It also requires a realistic assessment of resource needs to achieve the vision. Whether introducing a new product or service, expanding into a new market, acquiring another company, or embarking on any other breakthrough strategy, success will hinge on the team executing the plan.
Beyond an obvious need for funding, a visionary strategy may also require specialized skills and experience to appropriately allocate resources and track expenditures. Is the talent you need available in-house? Can priorities be shifted to free up the finance and accounting resources needed to support the new initiative? What are the options for supplementing the internal finance and accounting team with external expertise? The answers to these and other critical resource questions can establish a strong framework for successful execution of any strategy.
Assessing Finance and Accounting Resources to Support Growth
In pursuing any new growth initiative, you will need to map out an approach and a detailed plan. That starts with identifying the finance and accounting resources needed to execute the project. As you formulate your plan, there are a few questions you will want to answer about what project participants will need to know, how the work will be parsed out, and who will actually do the work.
Skills and experience
What skills and experience will be required to complete tasks and advance processes? If you are unsure, talk to an expert. No matter how well provisioned an organization is to support routine operations, the pursuit of a new strategy will often require specialized finance and accounting skills not typically available in-house. For example:
|Growth Strategy||Required Skills and Experience|
|Product/service commercialization||Inventory management and cost accounting|
|Geographic expansion||Complex supply chain and inventory management, possibly international consolidations and foreign currency exchange|
|Acquisition||Purchase accounting, systems integrations, internal controls, SOX, change management|
|Technology implementation||Project management, change management, business requirements definition, cross-functional collaboration, report writing, redesign and testing of internal controls|
If you don’t have resident skills and experience and don’t want to outsource an entire project, you can partner with a solutions expert for guidance. Several basic considerations will need to be explored at the outset.
Internal vs. external resources
- Are the skills and experience you need resident in-house or will you need to supplement your team with external resources?
- Can priorities be shifted to free up internal finance and accounting resources to support the new initiative?
- What are the options for supplementing the internal finance and accounting team with external expertise?
- Should you consider bringing in a full project team or individual consultants to shore up skills gaps?
- Will you deploy consultants to work exclusively on the strategic growth initiative or to free up the internal team from their regular responsibilities, so they can shift their focus to the special project?
Roles and responsibilities
Who will do what? New projects create development opportunities for staff members, but managers must determine who on the team is ready for the opportunity, in terms of both desire and capability. Some will be eager to work on a special growth initiative, while others may be perfectly content to maintain the status quo, continuing to pursue familiar duties. Speak with individuals to garner their interests and aspirations. Some will be ready to jump in immediately to explore unfamiliar career territory. Others may require some additional training, coaching and mentoring to ready themselves to fully contribute to the new growth initiative.
When Finance and Accounting Resources Are Constrained
New strategic initiatives typically require staff expansion, either to free up current staff to work on the new initiative or to add the specialized skills and experience not resident on the team. Trying to juggle routine responsibilities along with special projects is a recipe for disaster. Employees will struggle to focus fully on assigned tasks and be challenged to give either their “day job” or their special project activities the attention each requires. If the work is divided up, there should be clear lines of demarcation between the roles to avoid confusion within and between the teams and to equitably balance workloads. Anyone with too much on their proverbial plate will risk burnout, which jeopardizes employee engagement, team performance and project success.
What Finance and Accounting Leaders Can Do to Optimize Resources
Proactively build resource allocation into the project planning process. Be realistic about internal skills and experience. Leverage specialized expertise to advise and complement your internal team, while providing needed technical competency to ensure the success of your growth initiative. Think about how best to incorporate new learnings and transfer knowledge from external talent to internal on a go-forward basis. Experts in talent solutions can offer multiple options to execute special projects without sacrificing quality or employee engagement. Having access to a strong, variable talent pool with a good partner to provide recommendations as to what has worked at similar companies allows leadership to make informed decisions, avoid missteps and follow proven best practices.
When you need help, look to an experienced consulting partner to provide the specialized resources required to execute the plan and ensure project goals are achieved.
Let us be that partner, helping you succeed with your next strategic growth initiative.