From forecasts to annual statements: How Microsoft Teams can benefit your finance department

Whether it’s planning and managing budgets; preparing for an earnings release; or managing monthly, quarterly and annual statements – financial processes involve communication and collaboration between the finance department and the broader business.

This high level of teamwork can be a challenge for busy managers and staff. When implemented correctly, Microsoft Teams can improve task management, communication, collaboration and coordination, making it a much smoother experience for finance departments.

To understand the role of a Team Leader when implementing Microsoft Teams, read the first article in our Teams Toolkit which gives an overview for Team Leaders in any department.

This article looks at just a few ways that Teams can specifically benefit your finance team.

Budget planning and management

The first step towards smooth collaboration for budget planning and management is to create your department budget planning and management team in Teams. Once that’s done, new channels can be added – include some content in them so your team members don’t just see a blank page the first time they go in. For example, you might post a couple of questions to generate conversation, or perhaps link to some interesting, or controversial, external content.

Useful channels for your department budget planning and management team could include:

  • Marketing and sales forecast – vital for setting payroll, IT budgets etc as well as marketing and sales budgets
  • CAPEX budgets – for CAPEX budgets for individual departments
  • OPEX budgets – for OPEX budgets for individual departments
  • Budget reporting –for those department managers providing budget performance reports to finance

Tip: When setting up channels, start with one general Finance channel and then add additional channels as required. This allows staff to get familiar with the platform and functionality. It also limits the number of channels being created which can be confusing and overwhelming to new users.

Conversations:  The marketing and sales forecast team will be able to use the ‘Conversations’ function to discuss financial goals, marketing and sales plans, product pricing and new product releases, etc.

Files:  Vital documents like spreadsheets and templates can be added to any channel using ‘Files’. For example, IRR, NPV and ROI spreadsheets can be added to the CAPEX budgets channel under ‘Files’.

Preparing for the next earnings release

Preparing for the next earnings release involves close communication and content collaboration as well as task management.

The first step is to create your earnings release team in Teams. Then you can add new channels (making sure there’s content in place for team members to see when they first log in).

Tip: for early-stage engagement, you might @mention particular team members to draw them into discussions or connect to relevant RSS feeds.

Useful channels for your earnings release team could include:

  • Annual Report – for the team preparing the annual report
  • Earnings Call – for team members producing the earnings call slide script, etc
  • Securities Commission filing – for the team involved with mandatory securities commission filing
  • Program management – while the other channels will have their own projects, this channel provides an overview for how the earnings release team is tracking overall

Managing monthly, quarterly and annual statements

If anything is critical to any organisation, it’s monthly, quarterly and annual closing processes. First, create your monthly, quarterly and annual closing team in Teams. Once that’s done, new channels can be added as required – again, ensure there’s some content for your team to look at the first time they go into the channel.

Useful channels for your monthly, quarterly and annual closing team could include:

  • Accounts Receivable – for tracking team activities relating to collecting customer revenue
  • Accounts Payable – for tracking team activities related to paying invoices to vendors
  • Financial Reporting – for preparing financial reports and statements for management review
  • Management Review – a team consisting of the CFO and senior finance managers, enabling easier collaboration than via email

Tip: Some channels will require greater levels of collaboration between different departments – for example, the Accounts Receivable channel will involve discussions between sales, operations and customer service that will exceed the details of the actual transaction. So important documents like pending transaction details and invoice information can be added under ‘Files’.

If there are particular questions regarding the accuracy of specific data – perhaps a particular invoice needs verifying in the Accounts Payable channel – the ‘Conversations’ function can be used to provide speedy answers.

Tip: Note that tabs can be added linking to files that are frequently referenced by your teams.

If setting up Microsoft Teams for your finance department seems too overwhelming, MWA can help. Through our events and workshops, we work with your overall organisation or specific team to set you on the right path to a Modern Workplace.

Contact us to find out more about our Modern Workplace Accelerator workshop.

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