Social Collaboration in the office of finance

Social Collaboration in the office of finance

social collaboration priority

(In Ventana Research’s 2013 Survey, respondents put social collaboration 2nd as the technology they most expect to improve their performance.)

For most offices of finance I talk with social collaboration in their office is still something of a mystery. There are a few common misconceptions; my favourite of which is that social collaboration is some kind of Facebook hybrid where the CFO can share photo’s of his weekend escapades with his team – this is not what social collaboration is all about at all.

So what really is social collaboration and what benefits can it deliver?

Social collaboration is the term used to describe utilising new functionality within financial systems allowing the office of finance to collaborate within the system. The technology allows financial professionals to perform activities such as quickly sharing budget information, processes, discussions, status, reports and documents with departmental teams across the organisation both locally and globally.  And to easily collaborate with stakeholders to manage cost controls, expenses, and areas such as head count.

 What types of problem does this functionality alleviate within the office of finance?

  • Reliance on email, telephone calls and post it notes, all of which give no visibility to progress or insight into the matter in hand
  • Collaboration issues between the Finance and other departments where opportunities are missed due to poor methods of communication and sharing of insight
  • Differing departmental targets and misaligned goals that are barriers to co-operation
  • Silo’d business units that are unable to collaborate effectively because visibility across silo’s creates an invisible barrier to information and action
  • Too much time spent digging around in spreadsheets, emails and within systems trying to find data. Paper trails are slow and difficult to administrate

How the office of finance works without social collaboration

How the office of finance works without social collaboration

Social collaboration within the office of finance can go from end to end of the organisation. Whether multiple people are working on critical work such as month end or more simply 2 people are discussing matters surrounding an invoice, the data is both easily accessible and perhaps more importantly it carries an audit trail allowing people to set tasks against it as well as drill down into the source of the data if required.

How much time is spent within your organisation by activities that require direct communication such as checking details and correcting errors?  Operations like receivables, payables, and purchasing could be streamlined if they were all connected to a collaborative network of people who were able to co-operate together. For example, the financial close has multiple steps where time saved by resolving snags or clearing up ambiguities consistently can have a meaningful impact on shortening the process.  Saving time makes the office of finance more efficient and it is no coincidence that the most effective businesses also have the most efficient office of finance.

What else can Social Collaboration deliver to the office of finance?

  • Individuals can customise which networks they are part of. This means that each individual can keep a laser focus on their responsibilities and organisational interests
  • A High level view of operations for C-Level executives – Tailoring the networks that individuals are subscribed to will allow C-Level execs to have visibility of operations throughout the organisation without having to make contact to anyone for an update
  • Social Collaboration gives teams complete accountable control of their responsibilities. They can communicate and delegate responsibilities clearly and effectively. No longer having to rely on firing emails off into ambiguous black holes.
  • As the data has become readily available it allows people to rely on the data, not people to make decisions instantly.
  • Unite the office of finance with other offices within the organisation such as procurement, sales and marketing to increase co-operation and visibility across departments
  • Run an office of finance in which the best young talent will want to be a part of
  • In addition to time savings in process and administration social collaboration also increases the speed in which new team members are able to understand your operations and align themselves with the organisations goals.
  • Social collaboration is a modern technology that is accessible on mobile devices allowing for the modern work force to maintain efficiencies whenever and wherever

How the office of finance works with social collaboration

How the office of finance works with social collaboration

To summarise social collaboration isn’t a gimmick, it is one of the biggest shifts in the way that organisations will operate and is here to stay. Just as spreadsheets and email first took time to be adopted, social collaboration will do too, but I have absolutely no doubt that they will become the norm within organisations. How quickly they become part of your organisation and how effective they are I believe depends purely on the individuals and the culture set from the top.  Good luck, and I’d like to leave you with this excellent short video by AtoS discussing how they became an email free organisation:


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