4 Techniques to Align Finance & Operations Departments
By Jen Emswiler | Harkcon’s Program Control Analyst During the development of the Program Control System for Harkcon we realized there was a communication disconnect between the Finance and Operations Departments. In order to enhance the relationship between the two departments we needed to create clear goals. Our goals were to streamline processes, provide an effective way to regularly communicate and increase the accuracy of project data with reports. In order to accomplish our goals we designed 4 techniques that successfully brought our departments together and improved our business. If you are looking for strategies to implement to enhance the working relationships of your departments here are 4 techniques that will assist you.
1. Start Sharing Data
One of the major issues was a variety of data existing in different places, which created duplication of documents for both departments. We wanted a way to increase accuracy, while maintaining a historical log of all incoming and outgoing reports, invoices, and other documents, as well as avoid duplication of processes, folders, and documents. We accomplished this by:
Selecting Google Drive as the cloud based system to store all files
Sharing folders between departments for equal access
Eliminating duplicate folders and documents
Consolidating folders as needed
Creating a process for adequately dating and filing all records
Whether your company is just starting off or is several decades old, you can easily begin the process of sharing data by:
Selecting the system you want to use to store each department's data
Reviewing department data
Determining how you can consolidate data
2. Start Talking
Clearly defining department roles is critical to success. You do not want departments doing the same thing, but rather performing processes that complement each other and create a system of checks and balances. You can accomplish this in the following ways:
Take time to communicate each departments’ role and outline expectations and goals for each.
Explicitly communicating employee roles within each department.
Meet regularly as a team. Schedule joint department meetings will allow departments to provide status updates and resolve issues ahead of time. This opens the line of communication and decreases back and forth phone calls and emails throughout the week. Meeting regularly allows both departments to be proactive instead of reactive and provides accountability for deliverables.
Our departments meet weekly through a collaborative phone conference. Since our company is virtual it allows all of us to meet, even though we can’t meet in person. In addition to our weekly meeting, we communicate through Google Chat or through email to keep our conversations going and lines of communication open.
3. Streamline Cross Departmental Processes
Each department can have its own system for communicating, sharing data and scheduling meetings. Departments can still maintain their own way of working together, while working collaboratively with another department. To do this, it is necessary to discuss and streamline departmental processes in order to synchronize processes and avoid duplication and redundancy. You can streamline processes by:
Creating a workflow tool - employees can access this for documenting processes or checking off deliverables. This will help bridge gaps or communication barriers.
Determining the mode of communication preferred for each department such as email, phone calls or in person meetings. Find what works best for your Finance and Operations Teams.
4. Create a Job Aid
Once you have shared data, started talking and streamlined processes between departments, creating a job aid is the next technique that will bring everything together. It serves as a reference and guide for both departments. The job aid should outline the working relationship between departments, goals, schedules, and processes to be followed.
It is never too late to align or improve the relationship between departments. When we are able to meet regularly and work together as departments we are able to streamline processes, effectively communicate and improve the accuracy of project data and reports for Harkcon. The four techniques discussed can be applied to any department. They will help eliminate barriers, identify better ways of successfully working together and will have a positive impact on your company.
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