There’s no such thing as stagnation in the world of finance. If your accounting team isn’t improving, they are falling behind, and that could impede strategic decision-making and leave the C-suite without the insights necessary to ensure the company thrives. 

How do you foster innovation within the finance department without burning through your budget or inadvertently sparking significant change resistance? Here are some actionable tips you can use to bring out the best in your team. 

Encourage a Growth Mindset

The first step in fostering innovation involves encouraging a growth mindset within your team. They must have the desire to innovate. 

Start by offering training programs and seminars on the latest financial technologies and industry trends. Encourage your team to pursue certifications and courses that can enhance their skills and knowledge. Once they see that you are willing to invest in them, they will be more willing to adapt to change and embrace new technologies that make the finance department better. 

Cultivate an atmosphere where mistakes are viewed as opportunities for learning and growth. Doing so encourages your team members to experiment with new ideas, take chances, and rethink old processes.

You also need to provide your team with clear direction. Work with them to define specific goals for innovation and technology adoption. Ask them what they believe the organization’s greatest areas of need are, and come up with objectives that address those shortcomings. 

Create a Roadmap

A digital transformation roadmap will serve as your blueprint for identifying and implementing new technologies that modernize the finance department. It includes everything from the “why” behind your change initiative to what you hope to achieve and how you plan to get there.

Imagine that you are planning a cross-country road trip. You’ll need to identify a starting point, destination, and various stops along the way. A digital transformation roadmap provides a similar level of detail for your innovation project. It helps you achieve your objectives as efficiently as possible while providing mile markers to ensure you stay on track. 

Use Tech to Become More Efficient and Work Faster

Innovating the finance department requires time and resources. If your accounting personnel are already working at max capacity, they may not have the bandwidth to focus on problem-solving or rethinking old challenges. You’ll need to give them the latitude to actually innovate. 

Adopting new technologies can enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of your team. Start by automating repetitive and time-consuming tasks that can be streamlined with robotic process automation (RPA) technology or artificial intelligence. Automation frees up your team to focus on more strategic and value-added activities.

Use advanced analytics tools to gain deeper insights into financial data. These tools can help forecast, budget, and identify trends that can inform strategic decisions.  

Prioritize Collaboration With Other Teams 

Innovation thrives in environments where collaboration and open communication are encouraged. Schedule regular meetings dedicated to discussing new ideas, technologies, and improvements. Use these gatherings to brainstorm, share knowledge, and get feedback from your team. 

Don’t limit this increased communication to only the finance department; encourage collaboration with other teams as well. 

Every team across the organization relies on finance to ensure they have the resources necessary to thrive. Fostering interdepartmental collaboration can promote strategic alignment with other teams, including marketing, sales, and customer service. Individuals from other areas of the business can provide a unique perspective on accounting challenges. 

Lead the Charge

As a CFO or controller, your attitude toward innovation and technology adoption sets the tone for the entire department. Keep yourself updated on the latest developments, financial technology, and industry best practices. Your enthusiasm and knowledge will inspire your team to follow suit.

Join your team in training sessions and workshops. Show that you are a lifelong learner and that you are always striving to become better. Seeing you in the trenches with them will inspire your staff to do their best during upskilling opportunities and acquire new talents that help them do their jobs more effectively. 

Actively support and advocate for innovative projects within your department. Your endorsement can motivate your team to embrace new ideas and approaches. 

Choosing a Starting Point

You can’t revolutionize your entire finance department all at once. Taking an incremental approach will make the entire process easier on your team while also allowing you to build momentum with each successful initiative. The question is, where do you start?

Take stock of your finance department’s strengths, weaknesses, and areas that need to improve. Identify which areas for improvement will make the biggest tangible impact on operational efficiency and productivity. Explore ways to get better in these processes and implement targeted changes that deliver meaningful results.

Embrace the strategies outlined above. Remember that the success of your innovation initiative hinges on your mindset and that of your team. A nuanced approach will empower you to transform the finance department into a strategic asset for the organization.