Today offers a unique, once-in-four-years opportunity. By adding a day to the 365-day calendar, Leap Year offers up something finance teams everywhere could use plenty more of: time.
Lack of time was recently cited by CFOs as the leading barrier to better collaboration in the Adaptive Insights CFO Indicator Q4 2015 report. And the time crunch doesn’t only hinder collaboration, but also the ability of finance teams to focus on more strategic, high-value work. In fact, 63% of CFOs report that not having enough time for analysis is the primary roadblock to being a more strategic leader, according to the Q2 2015 report.
But today can be different. For starters, Leap Day presents a mini-Y2K moment (minus the apocalyptic gloom and doom). It can serve as a chance to make sure that your finance team triple-checks the numbers—as well as your formulas and processes.
For instance, if you’re reporting on renewals, check your work to make sure you’re not misreporting revenue. Most formulas include “365” (which, of course, works most years), assuming a one-year contract and setting the renewal date accordingly. This year that could mean revenues are either pulled forward or pushed out depending on fiscal or calendar year.
Yet beyond using February 29 as a checkup, you can also turn your attention to how it might create some momentum for your team and organization. For the sales team, of course, today offers an additional opportunity to sell and generate revenue. For the finance organization, the potential ROI of an extra day might not be as concrete, but there are still ways to make the most of the bonus hours.
Why not create a Leap Year challenge for your team? Choose today—or a select day later this week—to carve out time for your team to focus on strategic brainstorming that might pay off big in the remaining days of 2016 and beyond. Here are some possibilities:
Identify and reevaluate low-value tasks
Make this a day of introspection. Ask your team to be acutely aware of how they are spending their time each day. Are there low-value tasks that could be outsourced, delayed, eliminated, or tackled more efficiently? If several team members are identifying the same tasks, there’s a prime opportunity to brainstorm some solutions and figure out ways to free up valuable minutes and hours for more strategic activities.
Add some automation
Take a closer look at each step of your processes. Are there opportunities to automate any step or stage to create more efficiency? If so, do you have existing technology that could further automate your processes? If not, today is a great day to start exploring new tools and technology that might help streamline your work and save your team time.
Effectively communicating with business partners remains an ongoing challenge for finance teams. Spend some time today putting yourselves in the shoes of your business partners who aren’t immersed daily in the numbers and data. Are there simple ways to make your numbers come to life and communicate data and insights with more clarity? Can you leverage dashboards to display numbers and data in more engaging ways?
Go ahead and take the leap. Today can mark another leap toward a more strategic, engaged, and efficient finance team.
Any suggestions on how finance can make the most of 2016’s Leap Day? Share your ideas below, or join the conversation on LinkedIn.