Improving business awareness

Posted by on Apr 16, 2013 in Business Partnering | No Comments

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Accountants who move on to senior roles tend to be those that have a greater overall business awareness beyond the silo of finance. Are these individuals lucky to be blessed with such broader knowledge or has it been gained in another way?

To help improve our business awareness we should learn from leading companies around the world. Examples from organisations which have tried to improve business awareness for everyone in the organization and not just finance people include:

Lunch and Learn sessions

Once a fortnight/month you can have a lunchtime presentation by a member of staff who talks about a specific project they have been working on and the challenges it presented. It could include a summary of all the lessons learned and how the project team might do things differently if faced with the same issues again. It could involve a management accountant presenting to a selection of functional mangers what preparing the management accounts involves. To an accountant this might seem irrelevant but most non accounting staff will not have a clue what they do.

As well as business awareness this can also help improve business efficiency. In the case of the management accountant’s presentation other functions may come to realize the importance of getting things authorized and submitted on time and the potential consequences if not.

Network

This is something people who work in the sales function are very good at, but often it is not a finance trait. Ask yourself if you know your equivalents in your top 5 competitors? If you do you will know what they are up to how your organization compares and you will also have a connection to someone who might offer you a job! Good networkers will have a quarterly catch up with staff from equivalent competitors. This does not mean a compromise in corporate secrets but simply and opportunity to share ideas and views. In my experience peers in competitive companies would love to share ideas and are more than happy to get involved.

Research on-line

If your organisation has an intranet make sure you are aware of what other internal divisions are doing. Also consider subscribing to business journals such as The Economist and Management Today and check out what is going on in your sector. Maybe even offer to produce a regular up date to general management on what is happening in your industry.

…be more than just an accountant!