July 19, 2024

Advancing Business Journey

Empowering Business Excellence

Building An Agile, Resilient Team In The Age Of AI

4 min read

A former accountant turned cofounder and CEO, Mike Whitmire is the leader of pre-IPO fintech company, FloQast.

It’s no surprise that the rise of AI is impacting the workforce. While there is a lot of apprehension around AI replacing jobs, we’re also seeing it becoming an increasingly popular tool to empower employees to do their jobs better. In fact, 72% of senior leadership professionals who use AI extensively report high organizational productivity.

As the landscape evolves, finance and accounting teams must be agile and nimble to navigate the changing tides ahead. With more AI tools emerging and being incorporated into workflows, leaders can take these four steps to not only ensure teams remain efficient, resilient and flexible, but also unlock greater potential in this new era of technology.

Focus On Continuous Process Improvement

Processes and systems are constantly changing in today’s tech-dominated workplace—especially as AI rapidly evolves. Continuous evaluation and improvement are becoming increasingly important to establishing efficient operations. This is particularly true when acknowledging that many of today’s finance and accounting processes aren’t optimized.

Take a look at compliance and internal controls processes, for example. Our 2023 State of the Industry report found that the average professional considers these processes to be about 30% burden, and only 26% feel these add significant value to their organization. These findings highlight why continuous evaluation and improvement are becoming increasingly important to establishing efficient operations.

To continuously improve processes, leaders should conduct regular audits of their existing workflows to identify any inefficiencies or bottlenecks and to help identify areas where AI could be deployed for further improvements. Teams should also collaborate and set key performance indicators and feedback mechanisms that can and should be monitored for improvement.

Ultimately, continuously evaluating processes can help ensure that AI is being leveraged correctly, workflows are streamlined and optimized and unnecessary steps are eliminated. This gives finance and accounting professionals valuable time back and empowers them to focus on more strategic and fulfilling tasks.

Embrace Modern Technology

Adopting modern technology is not an option. It’s a requirement to keep up in an increasingly AI-driven world. Leveraging the latest cloud-based technologies, AI-driven solutions and collaboration tools is critical for accounting and finance teams to remain relevant and competitive. AI tools can reduce the risk of errors and missteps, while also potentially improving recruitment and retention and reducing burnout, depending on employees’ relationship with the technology.

It’s important to note, however, that this does not mean every process needs modern technology; the regular audits mentioned above should help uncover key areas that may benefit from AI. However, at the end of the day, companies cannot stay stagnant; almost half (45%) of executives believe that their organizations will not remain economically viable in the next 10 years if they don’t evolve.

Provide Continuous Learning Opportunities

Modern technology can be new and intimidating to employees. For this reason, organizations should provide professional development and continuous education opportunities to help finance and accounting teams stay on top of the latest solutions and cultivate an understanding of their potential. These development opportunities should also include cross-functional training, a key element to building well-rounded, supportive teams.

With cross-functional training, finance and accounting teams can develop a holistic understanding of emerging technologies and their applications across different business functions. In such a rapidly changing space, having siloed team members or highly specialized individuals can result in bottlenecks and slow response times.

A 2022 Forrester report commissioned by Airtable found that 68% of knowledge workers believe that their work is negatively impacted when they don’t have visibility into cross-functional projects. Nearly half (46%) said fractured processes result in longer decision-making processes and increased risk.

Additionally, by fostering collaboration and knowledge-sharing among teams, leaders can leverage diverse perspectives to identify innovative solutions and implement them effectively in finance and accounting processes.

Continued education opportunities can also help employees expand their skill sets and knowledge—particularly around AI tools—and attract future talent. A recent survey from Deloitte found that learning and development opportunities were one of the top three factors millennials and Gen Z workers considered when choosing an employer.

If you want to use cutting-edge tools such as AI, your employees must also be on the cutting edge. Continuous learning opportunities, including cross-functional training, will give companies an advantage and help teams stay agile, resilient and informed.

Keep Compliance In Mind

While companies are eager to enhance agility and build resilient, future-proofed teams, it’s important to ensure that the implementation of modern technology doesn’t come at the expense of financial security and compliance. Poor compliance can come at a high cost (literally) in the form of fines, lost stakeholder trust, a tarnished reputation and other negative impacts.

Implementing process narratives—strategic tools that lay out processes in context—helps establish a clear compliance and controls blueprint. Leveraging process narratives can also help contextualize functions and goals, prioritize activities that provide more value and empower employees to better understand why this work is essential.

When leaders take steps to make risk management and compliance core aspects of finance and accounting teams’ agile framework, they are better equipped to navigate the changing landscape and can drive increased innovation and efficiency.

Embracing The New Era

As the workforce adapts to AI’s transformative influence, finance and accounting leaders must adopt strategies that ensure resilient and nimble teams. Teams can navigate complexities with agility and confidence by focusing on continuous process improvement, embracing modern technology, providing ongoing learning opportunities and prioritizing compliance.

With these proactive measures in place, organizations will not only stay ahead of the curve but will have an opportunity to foster a culture of innovation and efficiency that drives sustained success in this new era of technology.

Forbes Finance Council is an invitation-only organization for executives in successful accounting, financial planning and wealth management firms. Do I qualify?


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