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How finance teams can fuel SMB innovation while safely navigating disruptive change


Disruption has become ‘business as usual’ in many markets and, as such, it is necessary for entrepreneurs to adopt a disruptive mindset. Disruption is forcing business leaders to act quickly and decisively to remain relevant in their industry or to leverage new market opportunities. All change, regardless of what level it occurs at, is fundamentally disruptive to an organisation and its people.

For finance teams there can be additional challenges, as they are tasked with finding solutions that let their organisation respond flexibly to disruption and innovate at will, without losing control of budgets and finances.

Finance teams face a delicate balancing act. There is increased pressure to free up funds for innovation; yet finance managers and business executives can’t offer their business development teams free rein to spend all of the organisation’s resources on innovation at the expense of daily operations. This puts pressure on finance teams to navigate complex issues around managing disruptive change.

This pressure is even more keenly felt within the small business community, as SMBs operate on smaller budgets and their working capital can be impacted by circumstances such as having to wait for long periods on client invoice settlements. Small businesses will likely have less funds available to innovate in the face of disruptive change in their market. However if they don’t, they run the risk of being left behind.

Finance and the wider business leadership team can use the following methods to embrace disruptive change and better leverage the organisation’s resources for innovation:

1. Use disruptive change to rethink your business model and the tools, technology and solutions available to support it

Finance teams should use solutions that are scalable, agile, and adaptable to the organisation’s specific and growing needs. For example, a unified, real-time financial system, based in the cloud, is an ideal tool to enable growth. Decision-makers should ensure the chosen solution delivers all of the functionality required, such as flexible and secure remote access, full integration with other systems, and accurate data for reporting, budgeting, planning, forecasting, and decision-making.

2. Use real-time data to uncover new business insights

Finance teams have a strong reliance on data. Gaining access to real-time, comprehensive data immediately puts the finance team in a stronger decision-making position. This lets the team identify new information, trends, and patterns, so it can respond more readily to changing market conditions. As a result, supporting specific innovation becomes easier, since it’s possible to present a more compelling business case.

3. Make data the driver of collaboration

Too many organisations still rely on various technology systems without creating a single, consolidated view of their data. This can often lead to duplication of data and efforts, data fragmentation and quality issues, and a lack of communication between teams. Finance teams can’t make sound decisions if they are unaware of sales numbers or manufacturing forecasts, for example. It’s essential for organisations to remove data silos and create a single source of truth across all departments. This also makes it faster to share information and develop insights across the business that can drive the organisation forward.

The bottom line

Disruptive change doesn’t have to overwhelm finance teams, individuals, or the wider business. By adopting certain methods and an open mindset to disruption it is easier to make change work for the business, and use it to help the company gain a competitive advantage. To do this successfully, finance teams must look to cloud products and services that bring increased collaboration and agility. They must help the team identify and implement solutions that will let them leverage disruption rather than be blindsided by it.

Developing a disruptive innovation capability is mandatory to help organisations grow and protect existing markets. To leverage disruption appropriately it is essential for an organisation’s leadership team and employees to develop new mindsets and behaviours that support this agile approach. Once this mindset is firmly engrained, technologies and services can help teams, like finance, maximise their resources for greater organisational success.

About the author

DonMcLeanDon McLean is the managing director of cloud computing company Fronde Australia. He has experience in the IT & Telecoms industry across sales, marketing, technical and management functions. He has worked across Europe and Asia and successfully built businesses from start-up to multi-million dollar revenues.