Insights / Finance / Article

How to Organize Your Finance Function

September 23, 2022

Contributor: Jordan Turner

You need to account for digitalization in your long-term plans when shaping the finance function.

Digitalization is all encompassing for finance right now. CFOs are accelerating digital technology investments with a range of initiatives, including fostering digital skills, prioritizing well-integrated data, strong leadership, digital technology strategies and roadmaps, and managing culture shifts. 

But digitalization remains piecemeal in most finance organizations. CFOs can avoid this through organizing the finance function’s structure, roles and networks to ensure that organizational design supports and drives productive digital investment, thus achieving cohesive digitalization.

Download now: How to Grow Your Autonomous Finance Capabilities

Adapt finance workflows and roles to align with digital

Finance function leaders have long focused on standardizing workflows and roles to increase efficiency, but standardized models proved brittle during the volatility of the pandemic and are at risk of becoming outdated with the increasingly digital finance function. CFOs must make three key role updates to achieve cohesive digitalization:

  1. Establish digital expectations for all finance roles through digital citizenship.

  2. Identify technology power users to focus on end user digital engagement.

  3. Make specific role updates for finance technology personnel focused on integration mapping.

Every finance role should be given a rightsized expectation and responsibility for digital participation to create a bottom-up cohesive digital environment.

Tech teams and digital champions inside finance should work together

Finance leaders need to update their organizational structure so finance digital technology investments are coordinated, transparent and aligned with a finance wide strategy. 

To do this, finance leaders can:

  • Invest in dedicated finance IT support. Establish and retain a technology team within finance to reduce reliance on an enterprise IT team. This also allows technology staff to build finance-related expertise and institute a more democratic process for selecting digital investments in finance.

  • Create an indirect reporting line between finance IT and a digital champion. A formalized relationship between finance IT and a digital champion creates transparency with decisions around digital investments. Digital investments are more likely to meet the needs of most users in the finance function.

Learn more: Why and How the Future of Finance Is Autonomous

Cross-functional networks will prevent silos

Internal networks are key to ensuring digitalization is cohesive. Finance function leaders and managers must create opportunities to identify, create and support existing networks to ensure clarity, interoperability and cross-functional coordination to break down information and data silos. Networks that drive cohesive digitalization:

  • Ensure all voices are heard and valued.

  • Provide pathways for information sharing.

  • Enable peer-to-peer learning.

  • Define clear rules for usage.

  • Assess contributions on the basis of quality, not seniority.

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In short:

  • Current organization design in finance isn’t conducive to digitalizing the function. 

  • This leads to piecemeal digitalization that is misaligned and inconsistent.

  • Create an aligned finance function that adapts to digital ways of working by updating finance’s organizational design, ultimately achieving cohesive digitalization.

This article has been updated from the 2018 original, which was refreshed July 18, 2019; April 01, 2021; and September 22, 2022, to reflect new events, conditions and research.

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