My 3 interesting things for you this month…
1. Strategy first, for once!
For a lot of us, September is a great time of year to think about strategic planning.
Although it’s not finance’s role to create the strategic plan content, we are best placed to facilitate creating the plan.
While you’re still refreshed from the summer break, get some strategic planning sessions in the calendar if they’re aren’t already.
Some of you might say: strategic planning can’t be controlled by my role. And that is often true. BUT what you can do is prepare the thinking and the time to influence the overall plan.
This not only helps your credibility and impact, but also means you may be able to influence the strategy in a way that you might not otherwise be asked to.
3 things to think about:
- Logistics is often the hardest bit. Do you have a strategy day with your leadership booked on the calendar? If not, who would you need to influence to get that set up?
- Foundational finance work goes a long way. What is the prep work that you can do ahead of any session to make it as effective as possible? Examples might be things like dusting off the do nothing base case and figuring out any gaps to target, looking at some strategic frameworks, refreshing the SWOT analysis, digging out the latest business cases.
- Engagement of the business is key. How can you support business partners to be ready for really effective strategic discussions? Set clear guidance on what would be useful for the session, what materials you can provide, and really importantly, help them think through timelines and expectations.
What have you found that works really well for strategy sessions??
2. Prioritising for a busy quarter
Anyone else getting fire hosed with stuff in the first few days of September?!
Another consequence of returning from summer breaks is that business leaders are ready to get stuck back in. We’ve built our own goals and plans over the summer, and now we’re also stacking up other requirements too!
So some aggressive prioritisation is called for…
What are the most impactful things you can achieve over the next 3.5 months?
How do you ensure you ring fence the time and continue to make progress?
How can you best engage the business and finance leaders?
A great way to think about this is to collate everything in one place and rank it in some way – ideally with an estimated impact of each option. Show that list to a few people on your team, your leadership and others in the business.
Can you get agreement on what matters?
If so, set some stretch goals around that and focus on it through the quarter.
As other things come up, ask: is this more important than our big goal? Which should make way?
This way of thinking can help you to make more progress on your biggest opportunities. Try it and let me know how it goes.
3. What is Power Query??
One of the things that surprises me most about job descriptions is how few hiring managers are asking for Power Query or Power BI skills – even as optional.
Why is this?
Anecdotally, it’s because many of them don’t really know what it is themselves, so they don’t really understand that it would be great to ask for it.
I don’t think managers need to be able to use all these tools themselves, but they do need to know how they can help.
Cue Dan Stockdale – a fantastic Excel and PowerBI trainer (he built our Month End in PowerBI course).
Dan’s put together a short 3 minute video on what Power Query is and how it can be used.
I love this video – its super concise but really demonstrates the power of the tool.