Cross-functional collaboration within an enterprise leads to improved business performance. When cross-functional business teams effectively collaborate everyone is on the same page to ensure outcomes are efficiently met, regardless of location.
While collaboration naturally happens within business functions, bringing together multiple departments to discuss corporate strategies and tactical insights can be a logistical challenge. This is especially true for finance teams within an enterprise as they are often isolated from other departments while being bogged down with cost reporting, audits, debt management, and taxes.
When finance doesn’t collaborate with other business functions they remain “out of touch” with corporate strategies to improve business performance. When this occurs, finance teams are prone to make decisions about policies and procedures that can negatively impact other business functions.
To the CFO, these decisions appear to make logical and good financial sense. In reality, however, these decisions can be detrimental to overall business performance. For example, finance may intentionally delay deployment of capital and resources for ease of reporting, which negatively impacts the product development team’s ability to launch a product.
According to an Adaptive Insights article, while finance teams are typically siloed and bogged down with day-to-day tactical support, executives do want to be more involved and aligned with corporate strategy. An APQC study mentioned in the article indicates that finance executives “want their teams thinking about the changing customer base and effectively analyzing the risk inherent in company and growth strategies.”
So how can CFOs and their teams play an active role in creating a collaborative culture to remain “in touch” with the business and make decisions that benefit the company as a whole? A second part of the Adaptive Insights article shares specific steps that can ignite a cultural shift in which finance is viewed as an essential growth partner.
One of the actions is for finance to rethink collaboration as “more of a structured, methodical, and goal-oriented process as opposed to colleagues simply cooperating with one another.” Also, collaboration sessions across business functions should be used to create a shared purpose, and identify opportunities that lead to better outcomes.
Another action step is to encourage a collaboration audit. Are there physical or geographic barriers that prevent effective collaboration from taking place? Are there communication disconnects? If so, what communication platforms can be put in place to enhance the overall collaboration experience?
Large enterprises typically operate with business functions spread across the globe. It doesn’t make good financial or logical sense to bring various departments together in-person to collaborate. Modern collaboration platforms, such as enterprise-grade video solutions are leveraged by enterprises to offset this challenge as team members can efficiently and securely meet face-to-face in real-time to discuss corporate strategies.
LOTOS Capital Group, a major producer and supplier of oil products in Poland is an example of a firm that uses video as a collaboration tool to accelerate critical business decisions. Headquartered in Gdansk, LOTOS needed a dependable and reliable video conferencing platform to connect its thousands of employees spread across the globe.
Since 2002, the firm continues to leverage the Polycom RealPresence platform, along with Microsoft® Lync™ on their desktop PCs to streamline face-to-face meetings. Accounting and controlling teams use video to collaborate internally and externally with other business functions in an efficient manner, speed up the decision-making process, and transfer more organized knowledge sharing.
In addition, LOTOS has been able to create segment management groups, in which separate businesses are managed across the group by a designated member of the board. Each area of the business are now better managed and controlled with regularly scheduled reviews using video conferencing, and video is now used for the majority of LOTOS communication needs with employees based in remote locations.
Finance plays a critical function within an enterprise. Creating a structured culture of cross-functional collaboration, such as video, is key to getting this critical team to be the difference makers that make sound business decisions.