ResourcesBlogHow Finance Teams Can Become Business Enablers

July 9, 2023

How Finance Teams Can Become Business Enablers

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Too often, finance teams are under-appreciated. There is a perception that these teams are slightly distant from the “business side” of the company; and finance teams often have a reputation as the ones saying “no” – to everything from expense items, to new strategic initiatives.

As we all know, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Finance teams not only are the backbone of the business, the ones that ensure its efficient and ongoing functioning, but also have the skills, knowledge and experience to lead from the front, and be key drivers of business success.

We’ll look at how finance teams can position themselves as business enablers, and be valued as the critical, value-adding, results-driving team team they truly are.

Finance to the fore

Companies today are having to deal with an extremely challenging set of circumstances. A tech slowdown, high interest rates, supply chain issues, and steep levels of inflation among other issues, have conspired to create a tough trading environment. 

Organizations are focusing on optimizing costs and protecting margins to ensure profitability – and by extension, making sure they weather this storm and are positioned effectively for future growth.

When it comes to costs, margins, and effective financial planning, there’s only one team who are the undisputed experts in these areas.

It’s therefore in this complex environment that finance teams are rising to the challenge, and are making their voices heard: from the CEO’s office through to the Board table.

While other departments are now realizing the value that finance and procurement teams can add, this is actually only a part of the true impact that effective finance teams can have. 

Taking the initiative

Finance teams can be business enablers, taking a proactive approach to adding value, and powerfully extending their reach well beyond the traditional areas associated with finance exclusively.

Instead of waiting for results to come in and ensuring that these results are recorded and presented correctly – the old paradigm of the role of the finance team – finance teams have the opportunity to flip the script, and become drivers of these results.

Procurement: whether this is the task of the finance team or a separate procurement department, the goals are the same: to take a proactive approach to creating sustainable, long-term value for the organization. This could be to renegotiate onerous contracts, create lasting relationships with suppliers, identify upcoming trends in the supply chain, or leverage AI and other tools to gain critical insights. 

Financial Planning and Analysis (FP&A): here again, AI can be used to identify opportunities for growth and profitability. Instead of doing the planning and then “handing over” for the carrying out of such plans, finance teams can assess progress, and use the data points gathered to surface learnings that can be implemented immediately across the organization. The best FP&A software solutions help companies automate and consolidate their financial data, while greatly improving the budgeting, forecasting, and reporting functionalities. 

Investment appraisal and proposal: finance teams are adept at evaluating potential investments and projects by conducting rigorous financial assessments. With finance being able to “see” everything that goes on in a company thanks to the visibility that financial information provides, such teams are uniquely positioned to propose new investment opportunities, or give ideas as to areas of investment.

Strategic partnerships: finance teams can lead strategic partnerships, and M&A opportunities. They can identify potential synergies, and provide financial modeling to support decision-making during the negotiation and integration processes.

Communication and influence: proactive communication is essential for finance teams to become true business enablers. They can translate financial insights into understandable and actionable information for stakeholders across the business – and by collaborating with other departments, sharing financial knowledge, and influencing decision-makers, finance teams can drive positive change and create value throughout the organization.

These are just a few ways in which finance teams can boldly step forward to become business enablers, completely changing the way they are perceived by others in the company.

Finance leadership in practice

BCG sums this up well, and gives some examples where finance teams have taken the initiative and become business enablers. 

Noting that “In the past, finance functions spent most of their efforts on transactional work, including high-quality bookkeeping and operations conducted in shared service centers,” the authors note that “over the past several years, most have become more of a trusted partner to business units, empowered to take proactive measures and create more value.”

Leveraging data to add value

The article gives the example of an automotive leasing company, whose finance team partnered with the data science team to develop algorithms that could better forecast KPIs. These eventually replaced the traditional planning process, with the finance team offering ongoing advice and coaching to operational units to drive results.

Taking action based on insights

McKinsey provides another example of finance leadership, drawing from CFO experiences in PE-backed companies. For example one CFO analyzed results and saw that while revenues were climbing, profits were shrinking. Further investigation revealed a shift in sales from high-margin branded items, to low-margin white-labeled ones that were easier to sell. The CFO instituted an all-day workshop together with the head of sales and the HR department, to redesign targets, incentives, training, and communication across the organization, resulting in the right proportions of revenue and margin, and the maximization of long-term value creation.

Visibility and automation secures applications without burdening the developers who create them, improving outcomes while accelerating development. CFO Ilan Sidi recognized that visibility and automation were critical in order for the finance team to be able to make a bigger impact, and drive more value. Ilan implemented PayEm, and quickly eliminated manual processes while dramatically improving visibility for himself and his team. They were thus able to focus on strategic initiatives, and surface opportunities for the company.

PayEm as a finance team enabler

For finance teams to really become business enablers, they need the right tools at their disposal. Specifically, a centralized platform that provides the control, automation, and visibility, to allow finance teams to take the initiative and drive value.

PayEm is everything that finance teams need, in one platform. It provides real-time data and instant insights, customization and automation of approval flows, organizational control and transparency, and much, much more.

To learn more about how your team can become business enablers with the PayEm platform, get in touch with a product expert or set up a personalized demo.

Finance teams as the new organizational heroes

With the current complex business environment, finance teams are literally saving the day, every day. Going forward, this is only a small taste of what empowered finance teams can offer, especially when equipped with the right tools and technologies. 

By focusing on value creation, pushing boundaries, and effectively communicating with all stakeholders, finance teams can assume the central role in the organization that they are uniquely positioned for.

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