Traditionally, finance departments have relied on compartmentalized workflows as opposed to interconnected, communication-centric processes. While that approach has proven effective in the past, the increasingly complex nature of modern financial processes has demonstrated the need for a more unified approach.

As such, in today’s rapidly evolving business landscape, controllers and CFOs are realizing the importance of teamwork and collaboration within the finance department. 

Below, we will explore five ways in which innovative financial leaders are tearing down silos between their teams and cultivating a culture of collaboration. These efforts are transforming finance into a team sport by encouraging knowledge sharing, leveraging new technologies, and implementing cross-functional projects.

1. Embracing Technological Advancements

For years, financial technologies have seemingly lagged behind the robust software solutions deployed across other areas within organizations. It is not that better technologies were not available, but instead that many business leaders simply chose not to adopt them. Fortunately, forward-thinking CFOs are streamlining their core workflows by encouraging the adoption of innovative new technologies.

Implementing dynamic accounting software that features automation tools, for instance, allows controllers and CFOs to drive efficiency, increase operational accuracy, and reduce their reliance on error-laden manual processes. Moving forward, CFOs and controllers must stay apprised of these new advancements so that they can maintain an edge in the fast-paced modern financial landscape. 

As controllers work to support their organizations’ digital transformations, it is vital that they explore ways to promote interdepartmental information sharing. A team-first culture will facilitate seamless collaboration between finance, tax, and legal teams through the strategic implementation of new technologies.

2. Fostering a Data-Driven Culture

Controllers have always played a critical role in supplying their CFOs with accurate, timely, and relevant financial data. By ensuring that high-quality data is available, controllers can promote data-driven decision-making and empower their CFOs to further the organization’s efforts toward its financial goals.

Transforming finance into a team sport means controllers must implement effective governance frameworks, deploy interconnected software solutions that streamline the collection of data, and develop custom dashboards that optimize data accessibility and usability. They must also take a proactive approach to data analysis, using the latest analytics solutions to shed light on important trends, identify relevant key performance indicators, and maintain a watchful eye over the financial health of the organization. 

3. Collaborating Cross-Functionally

Achieving fully-optimized financial performance requires that controllers learn to collaborate cross-functionally. In other words, they need to proactively work to tear down communication barriers between interconnected departments, including marketing, operations, sales, and legal. 

When the finance department understands the challenges and goals of other business units, it can more effectively support those needs and contribute to the success of those units. Likewise, when sales, marketing, and operational personnel understand the function and goals of finance, they will be able to more effectively collaborate, share information, and support each other’s interconnected missions. 

By facilitating cross-departmental collaboration, a controller can identify cost-saving opportunities, evaluate the profitability of services and products, and more effectively support the CFO by providing strategic recommendations. 

4. Investing in Their Teams

Controllers need to surround themselves with a talented, dynamic team of financial professionals in order to thrive, and as part of their efforts to cultivate a winning team, they must also prioritize upskilling and professional development. Providing financial professionals with the opportunity to develop, learn new skills, and grow can boost morale, reduce attrition rates, and nurture feelings of loyalty toward the team.

In addition to supporting the growth of their teams, controllers should actively explore opportunities to broaden their own horizons and learn new skills — a particularly important task for those with aspirations of one day stepping into the role of CFO.

As part of their efforts to invest in their staff and promote collaboration, controllers should organize team-building activities in the workplace. For instance, they could pass out gift cards on the holidays or hold competitions that reward top performers and incentivize others to step up their game. 

5. Strengthening Compliance and Risk Management Protocols

One of the foundational roles of a financial controller is risk mitigation and compliance. As such, controllers must stay apprised of the latest regulatory changes, industry standards, and internal control frameworks. By doing so, they can more effectively insulate their organization from various financial risks and ensure compliance.

That said, controllers cannot cultivate a culture of compliance on their own. To succeed, they need to mobilize their entire team.

First and foremost, controllers should relay the importance of compliance and risk mitigation. They should also relay notifications to their staff of any internal policy updates or regulatory changes that impact compliance and risk management protocols. By keeping everyone in the loop, controllers can make compliance an integral part of team culture. 

Build a Winning Team

Creating a winning finance team requires a proactive approach, innovative tech tools, a commitment to staff development, and a mind for risk mitigation. By combining these strategies, you can transform finance into a collaborative process that propels your organization toward its short and long-term goals.