The Future of Work is Reshaping Financial Management Organizations

The future of work is increasingly based on remote (or at least hybrid) employees and centered around work-life balance. At the same time, the rapid adoption of automation — including Robotic Process Automation (RPA), Machine Learning (ML) and AI — is shifting roles and responsibilities. 

The Great Resignation reflects employees’ desires to reshape their career trajectories, which could mean hard times ahead for financial management teams. There’s now more stress to hire and retain skilled financial professionals at all levels.

Reskilling and upskilling the current workforce can alleviate some of this pressure. Automation can also help, first, by speeding up repetitive tasks to keep operations on track and on schedule; and second, by freeing current employees to shift to more fulfilling and challenging positions.

Agencies must take steps now to determine the impact on business operations; for government financial teams, the future may look different in many ways

Remote and hybrid work creates new expectations

Since much of the work of financial teams is transactional in nature, it isn’t always necessary to have personnel clustered together in an office, although management may need to come in at least part of the time.

It’s essential, then, for agencies to be clear about expectations regarding productivity and availability. A remote work policy is essential; this should cover issues such as when or if staff are expected to be in the office, such as for meetings, training, and face-to-face interactions; whether off-site employees still get a desk; who pays for equipment; and HR-related procedures, just to name a few.

In reality, much of the success of remote and hybrid workforces comes down to the supervisor. Some prefer to keep everyone in the office, while others are open to new arrangements. Realistically, it may be harder to see an impact when everyone is scattered geographically. Project teams need to regularly revisit — at least once a quarter — how well their systems for working together are functioning, then make adjustments to improve their processes.

On a larger scale, the same is true for management and financial processes. Modernization may lead to more efficiency, but those changes must be nurtured and fine-tuned to ensure that the ROI is meeting expectations.

Training becomes even more important when people are working remotely. In this new way of working, using online tools effectively is essential, but so is understanding how workflows and collaboration have changed. While you can teach people which button to click, it’s a higher hurdle for them to understand how to work in a virtual environment — and if most of the staff is working from home, there’s no one in the next cubicle to call for help.

Automation speeds up work and redirects career trajectories

RPA is the employee that never sleeps, doing repetitive work more efficiently and accurately than humans can, which frees up people to focus on decision-making tasks. For instance, deploying RPA solutions can free up high-value resources to improve customer experiences.

As digital transformation picks up speed across agencies, one factor more than any other will determine which organizations turn new technologies to their advantage: people. Agencies should be prepared for significant workforce planning initiatives, hiring and reskilling programs, and knowledge management activities.

The employees who are able to adapt to use evolving technologies are the ones who will thrive in this new world of work. Agency leaders need to know who can be nurtured within the existing employee base; digital talent must come not only from hiring new personnel for specific jobs but also from the development of digital skills in existing roles.

In every case, this is an opportunity to not only reinvigorate the workforce, but to bring new ideas and perspectives to longstanding processes.

Communication and a strong partner are essential

The more your people are separated, either geographically or by technology, the greater the need for clear communication. This has been an essential outcome of our support to our agency partners: helping smooth the way to hybrid work environments by crafting well-thought-out communication plans.

A communication plan needs to clearly outline roles, both within the organization and with solution providers; this keeps everyone fully aware of responsibilities. We’ve found that the key is to communicate clearly without inundating or overwhelming people. A barrage of emails and chat messages is less effective than a simple, concise note that says what’s necessary, and no more. Status updates, audit results, and budget assumptions and recommendations can and should be shared without excess noise — which means everyone can function with less stress and more focus on the mission.

In practice, crafting this plan also requires a thorough understanding of the technologies that support team interaction, from instant messaging to video conferencing to collaboration platforms. As mentioned earlier, it frequently requires reshaping policies to reflect new work patterns.

That’s the value MDC brings: our financial management acumen, our technology insights, and our experience creating effective policies and processes help our agency partners achieve more, no matter where work happens.

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