As the newest member of our Maestro team, Jason Lin brings with him extensive experience to help continue Centage’s evolution. In this post in our continuing series, we interviewed Jason so you could Meet the Maestro.
Q: Do you think finance leaders should be responsible for operational strategies?
“Finance leaders should absolutely be at the table for the discussion and development of operational strategies,” Jason says. For finance leaders, though, it goes beyond simply being involved in the process. “They should also be stakeholders.” This is because of the unique nature of finance within the organization. As Jason explains, “Finance partners with every single department across the organization. The finance team should be driving everyone toward their departmental goals. These goals will roll up to corporate goals, and finance should be measured against achievement of these corporate goals.”
Q: What is the biggest challenge facing SMB finance teams today?
There are two big, related challenges Jason feels need to be managed by modern finance teams. “These teams need to be able to keep up with the business while maintaining accuracy – that’s key to establishing internal credibility,” he explains. That means addressing things like the speed and pace of the market, competitors, and even the rate that internal business partners are moving at. This has pushed teams to increase their response speed, too. “Expectations for deliverables and deadline are also impacted. ‘Let me take this offline and get back to you next week’ is no longer an acceptable answer,” he states. Small and medium businesses can also have additional challenges in keeping up with these expectations. “SMB finance teams often operate extremely lean and have limited resources,” Jason says.
Q: What advantages do companies gain when they include the office of finance as a strategic partner?
Aligning operational goals and actions with the financial picture increases credibility and confidence in the organization. “Whether you’re talking to customers, investors, your Board of Directors, bank officers, auditors – whomever you’re talking to – the story is much more fluid and believable when the financial picture aligns with the operational narrative,” Jason explains. “If finance is truly a key business partner, alignment in these two stories is important so that the operational highlights are not disconnected from the financial statements.”
Q: How are modern finance teams different than teams from 10 or 15 years ago?
“Speed and pace, as I’ve already mentioned, is a huge change,” Jason says. “That speed extends to things like financial analytics and analysis.” It isn’t just the expectation around the speed of analytics that’s changed, though. “There’s an expectation to see, on the fly, the financial impact when business drivers and levers change.” Finally, Jason explains that finance teams must be much more business facing than ever before. “The ‘Ivory Tower’ of the Office of Finance does not exist anymore, especially in technology. Finance professionals are no longer back office employees that crank out reports and hand out budgets,” Jason says. These teams must now work shoulder to shoulder with their partners inside the business to drive the organization forward.
Centage Corporation’s Planning Maestro is a cloud-native planning & analytics platform that delivers year-round financial intelligence. With Planning Maestro, Centage offers the sophisticated features needed by small and mid-market organizations to integrate budgeting, forecasting, and deep data analysis within one easy-to-use, scalable SaaS solution. For more information on how to modernize your office of finance with intelligent planning, view our product demonstration video, or call 800-366-5111.