7 Ideas For Managing Change From Finance Leaders

Finance Leaders’ 7 Ideas For Managing Change

By Margaret Harrist

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When an organization changes how work gets done, some employees resist, and finance professionals are no exception. Cloud-based finance applications, social tools, and increasingly artificial intelligence are among the technologies that may push people outside of their comfort zones.

As more companies move ERP applications to the cloud and away from legacy systems, project leaders are bound to come up against a range of “Yeah, but” protests.

"Yeah, I understand the new workflow, but we need those 12 spreadsheets I put together each month."

"Yeah, I understand we're standardizing processes, but our department is different."

"Yeah, but we've always done things this way."

Resistance to change has caused many ERP implementations to take longer and be more painful than planned-or killed the initiative altogether. Almost 90% of business leaders cite organizational culture and employee engagement as their top challenge, according to Deloitte's Global Human Capital Trends 2015 report.

Getting leadership to drive change is essential to success, said Bob Hughes, director of enterprise applications for Arby's Restaurant Group, speaking at Oracle's Modern Finance Experience.

How can they do that? Finance executives speaking at the event discussed how they've handled change in their careers and how they've managed employees through it. Following is some of the advice they shared.

  • Fuel FOMO (Fear of Missing Out): When driving a technology-enabled change, build excitement by showing people how the technology enables things people couldn't do before, so employees feel like they're missing out if they don't get on board, said GE Healthcare CIO James Richards. "Convince the grass roots that they can't miss out on this. We live in a world of things going viral."
  • Get leaders onboard: "Users were used to legacy tools and the tools they had built, so having leadership onboard and driving the project was essential," said Bob Hughes, director of Enterprise Applications for Arby's Restaurant Group. "Once the team saw the benefits, it was incredible. 'You mean I can do this? I don't have to do this? I don't have to send 150 individual emails? Where do I sign up?'"
  • Leap ahead: "Some of the best career opportunities are where things are changing," said Oracle CEO Safra Catz. "That's where you have a chance to really mess up the status quo. Take the power to make change and grab it."
  • Stand out during change: "Change often lets us plug in and differentiate our performance from others. I look for those differentiators when doing performance reviews," said Linda Zukakas, executive vice president and corporate controller, American Express.
  • Focus on the future: "In some companies, there is an old-school mentality that change is bad. The big challenge then is to convince them that we need to do this for the future of the business," said Joel Daum, CFO, Empire City Casino.
  • Gauge executive support: "There's a difference between having an executive sponsor and having a mandate for change," said Loren Mahon, vice president of finance systems for Oracle. "During Oracle's first transformation, we knew who the difficult people were going to be. I asked our CFO, 'When these people come to you, what are you going to tell them?' That was a way to test the strength of our mandate."
  • Engage your long-timers: "Our finance team's reaction was one of our initial challenges," said Steve Van Houten, CFO of The Rancon Group. "The average employment at that time was 12 years, and they had only ever done things one way. But once we showed them the capabilities of the new software, they saw that there were a lot of things that would make their jobs easier."

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