By: Cherry Birch On: February 17, 2020

A recent survey by Oracle has highlighted what many of us have seen time and time again – Finance sees things differently from Operations! The results revealed:

  • Finance leaders expect to spend more on marketing, IT, sales, and payroll this year.
  • 63% of non-finance execs say they expect higher capital outlays in 2020, as compared to just 51% of the finance executive respondents, and
  • All respondents agreed trade wars, tariffs, talent shortages and upward wage pressure top the list of pressing concerns for 2020.

Of the 361 executives that completed NetSuite’s Brainyard Winter 2020 Outlook Survey, 52% were in finance. The largest divide between finance executives and those in other departments concerns money management: finance executives are much more concerned about stable cash flow, budget adherence, and realising projected revenue than the others.

Non-finance execs worried more about hiring and retaining staff, improving customer experience and maintaining employee satisfaction. They are also much more likely to expect more capital expenditures in 2020.

So why is this significant? Whilst this may come as no surprise, it underlines the work to be done in closing the gap between Finance and Operations – to get on the same page. I have heard Operational Managers say that Finance do not understand the business and I have heard Finance accuse Operations of having unrealistic expectations or not being accountable. If Business Partnering is going to be effective – by living up to its name, then communication is the key. Finance need to demonstrate that they understand the business, the challenges and opportunities and explain their perspective on the financial imperatives in a clear dialogue – free of financial jargon. For their part, Operations need to be given the Financial Acumen skills to be able to understand the financial impact of each of their decisions – so they can be enabled to make informed decisions – rather than others assuming that they have the knowledge.( From my experience seniority does not necessarily go hand in hand with financial acumen skills).

I think we clearly have some way to go!