Navigating Tech and Best Practices for New Finance Leaders

As a new finance leader, you’re ready make a meaningful impact on your organisation. But the first 90 days in your new role will be busy. You’ll be diving into all aspects of the business to gain a deep understanding of how things get done at your company.

It might be daunting. But starting with a framework can make this a more manageable experience and help you establish successful working relationships in your new role.

This post—the first in a series of three—covers how to get to know your company’s finance processes and best practices.

Here’s how to establish your key goals and build critical areas of understanding of the business in your first 90 days as a new finance leader.

1. Dive into the numbers and know your spend

Start by getting up to speed on the financials to see how the business makes and spends its money, and how it runs across all departments. 

Gather the primary financial reports and data that business owners and the director level or C-suite focus on, including:  

  • Income statement
  • Cash flow statement
  • Balance sheet
  • Budget vs. actual reports
  • Annual reports
  • Accounts receivable aging report
  • Current and past forecasts

If the company has automated its finance and accounting processes, you should have access to real-time data and a clear picture of the day-to-day numbers. Also, find out which dashboards your leaders look at every day. This tells you what’s important to them and to the business. 


2. Know your industry and its financial best practices

Having a solid grasp of your company’s industry is crucial to your success as a finance or accounting leader.

If you’re new to the industry, you can probably learn the key basics relatively quickly. If you’re a veteran, brush up on the basics and catch up on the latest trends. In any case, consider joining industry groups (check professional online communities and LinkedIn) and try to attend at least one industry tradeshow or event every year.

Also, get to know how your company acts within industry norms. You’ll learn these things while on the job. Proactively seek out information from company documents and subject matter experts. This is also where you’ll learn more about your products, business development, sales, and customer service. 


3. Be proactive about using your company’s financial systems

Navigating a company’s financial processes and technology can be a major hurdle. Get a list of finance and accounting systems within your first couple of days—all systems, logins, and details for navigating them.

Look for systems for accounting, payroll, spend management, customer relationship management, enterprise resource planning, and financial forecasting, plus any other relevant systems and technologies specific to the company.

Then, set aside time each week to learn the systems so you can confidently navigate them.


4. Get to know what makes your company run

The general business fundamentals include, but aren’t limited to, the company’s products, services, solutions, and customers. And they’re usually well documented. Review the company’s website, products on resellers’ sites, product or company review sites, and sales and marketing materials. 

Look at reports in your CRM system to see who your top customers are and what they’re buying. And talk to your customer service team. Knowing what your company sells and why customers buy from you will help you be a better-informed finance leader.
Then, when you make financial decisions for the business, like cutting a product line or deciding where to invest for the future, you’ll know what impact these decisions could have.


5. Get a handle on AP, vendors, and spend

Vendors often make up a large percentage of a company’s spend. When reviewing the numbers, you’ll see which vendors are the largest—but you might not see which ones are the most important. So, you’ll have to investigate to get the full picture.

Find out which departments and individuals deal with your vendors and set up meetings with them to learn more. Find out what these vendors supply, why it’s important to the business, and what their relationships are.


Build your 90-day action plan

Building a plan for your first 90 days can set you on the path to success in your new role. By your third month, you should have a clearer picture of how to help the company manage its spend, optimise cash flow, and chart a stronger path forward.