One of the things I’m really thankful for in my career in Finance is the chance to get involved in a variety of business change projects. I learned a lot through those projects. But there were two defining moments for me that transformed the way I look at projects.
The first was an internal course I attended when I worked for Centrica, teaching the fundamentals of their strategy development process. They called it “Managing for Value”. That really helped me to realise what business strategy is all about – focusing on actions that will deliver the most value to the shareholders.
The second was an internal course I helped to deliver at Centrica, rolling out a new set of procedures for getting projects approved. It wasn’t as dry as it sounds. The thing that revolutionised my thinking was the attempt to force project proposals to make a strong link into the strategy of the business. And more than that, in doing so, forcing project sponsors to think clearly first about why they are proposing a change before thinking about what they are proposing to change.
So when I think about a project such as Finance Transformation I think “why would we want to do that?”
If the answer is, “to make Finance better”, that leads me to think, “better at what? And in what way?”
To answer those questions, you have to be clear what the Finance function exists for within the business. The value the business gets from Finance is derived from the function delivering on what it is there to deliver. And what is that?
My view is that the Finance function exists to ensure that the business performs to its full potential, delivering maximum value to the owners. And it does that through providing a framework for business performance, as well as a core operational service.
Getting that clear, and fleshing out what that means in your particular circumstances, is the right starting point for any Finance Transformation project.