CPA Congress: Finance Function Health Check with Mark Pattrick
October 17, 2017
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It’s seven days until the CPA Congress in Canberra, and we’re bringing you an in depth look at the variety of topics that we’ll cover over the three-day conference. Next up, is one of Synergy’s partners, Mark Pattrick.

Q: What is the overarching concept of the Finance Function Health Check?

The finance function health check exists to increase the performance of your finance team by understanding the level of maturity when compared against best practice.

This assessment is a holistic, and proven approach, to profile and assess your team’s capability against what a high performing Chief Financial Officer’s (CFO) team should be. The health check will also produce a list of achievable and tangible steps that your team can take to improve performance.

Q: What is the purpose of the Finance Function Health Check?

The purpose of the finance function health check is to provide assistance to CFOs to transform their finance functions and teams from scorekeepers to trust advisors. In an environment that’s had great emphasis on doing more for less, we recognise that effective and efficient use of existing money (especially in corporate divisions) is crucial.

With CFOs seeking to balance and deliver the financial implications of efficiency dividends and other funding reductions, it is important to understand what the strengths and weaknesses of your team are.

Mark Pattrick, Synergy partner, has a deep knowledge when it comes to finance function health checks

Q: How is the need for this service changing?

A big change we’ve noticed is how CFOs and organisations are now required to do more for less, so this service is helping them get their most efficient outcomes within the available resources. It also helps them understand how they benchmark against best practice and other similar sized organisations in the CFO area.

What we’re seeing is the CFO health check maturity model as a holistic and proven approach that really gives organisations a proven approach to profile and see your team’s capabilities against what a higher performing CFO team should be. This links back to our broader CPA Congress theme which is around high-performance.

Q: Does the structure and process vary depending on the size of the client?

Yes, it does. While we have a proven method, we want to do it once. This process provides an all-encompassing approach to diagnostic maturity model assessments. That’s not to say it isn’t adaptable to the size of your organisation. We make it suit large size government departments or a small government department.

We consistently look at organisational strategy, process, policy, people, technology, data, and performance management within your CFO area, that is consistent across all assessments.

Q: What comes after the Finance Function Health Check?

The results are explained in a report which helps you understand your performance against best practice, and how to target areas of opportunity so that’s really the value proposition.

What you’ll get out of this isn’t necessarily an action item, it’s a road map. On that road map will be a series of projects. Some examples include:

  • Identifying a capability or skills gap within the team
  • Providing staff with appropriate training
  • Addressing the reporting not being provided to the executive on a timely basis
  • Increasing maturity around a financial statement preparation
  • Improving accuracy in budgeting and forecasts

These are all worth evaluating as important next steps.

Q: How does this lead (or contribute) to high-performance in the workplace?

The questions we ask really do help the CFO’s recognise what is holding them back in their area. For example:

  • Are you appropriately staffed?
  • Do you have the appropriate resources?
  • Where do we need to invest to get the biggest bang for buck?
  • How can we take your team to the next level?

This helps to identify the gaps, opportunities, strengths and weaknesses so that we can inform you on what the improvement plans and road maps look like. It also helps you understand how you stack up against best practice.