By Jim Wong, CPA | May 27, 2015

Because I work so closely with companies on a daily basis to help them hire new accounting, finance and IT professionals, I’m constantly focused on finding the right solution to ensure both the company and the new team member have a long, prosperous relationship.

In this previous blog post, I discussed three ways to retain top accounting, finance and IT professionals: by training and promoting from within; by recognizing and rewarding top performers; and by having a shared purpose and goals. And while I think these factors certainly play into keeping your best team members happy and engaged, organizations may need to look more closely at themselves to really make a difference in determining whether their employees stay or go.

A recent white paper points to infrastructure as the key to employee retention. And it makes sense – without the proper tools to do their jobs, employees may easily get frustrated, feel the company isn’t investing in them and providing the tools for success, and ultimately decide to move toward greener pastures.

So as an organization, what can you do to ensure your infrastructure is up to par? Below are a few highlights from the whitepaper that offer you ways to manage your retention challenges.

1. Ditch the spreadsheets
With all of the new programs and technologies that exist, spreadsheets really are becoming a thing of the past, and for good reason. Limited reporting capabilities, human errors with incorrect formulas, and the cumbersome nature of spreadsheet programs like Excel are high on the list of frustrations for accounting and finance professionals. Even IT professionals, in my experience, would prefer working in a database than developing and maintaining spreadsheets.
But perhaps the biggest concern regarding spreadsheets is the lack of version control. Although your accounting or finance team may technically “own” the documents, they typically will share with business owners throughout the organization and therefore give up control. The result: misplaced data, incorrectly updated formulas and budget numbers – and worse, often extra work for the finance team.
2. Replace legacy systems
It probably comes as no surprise that legacy systems become outdated quickly; they tend to lack an intuitive user interface, in-depth sorting and filtering functions, and necessary reporting capabilities that help accounting, finance and IT professionals perform their jobs. According to the whitepaper, younger employees – especially millennials – are even less tolerant of these outdated systems, expecting companies to “get with the times” and update their technology.
Many organizations also find their legacy systems don’t integrate well, if at all, with other, newer software and systems – again creating additional work for accounting, finance and IT professionals who then have to merge data together from two or more different sources. Updating legacy systems can ease workloads for your staff, keeping them happier and more likely to stay with the organization.
3. Invest in an EPM (Enterprise Performance Management) suite
Replacing old, clunky, outdated systems and software with an EPM suite is perhaps the most important technology upgrade your organization can make to both improve workflow and retain top talent. By investing in the company’s infrastructure, you’re also showing employees you’re serious about investing in them, by providing them the best possible tools to perform their jobs.
Whether you choose an onsite or cloud-based EPM suite, the whitepaper recommends keeping the following in mind to select the right solution for your business:
  • Single source of data: This one’s a no-brainer; having one single source of data reduces the likelihood of errors and creates less work for team members.
  • Trackable, user-based roles: From systems administrators to those crunching the numbers, your system should have tight security controls that track all activity and establish different levels of access depending on your team member’s role.
  • Out-of-the-box functionality: While you certainly can customize a solution, most modern EPM suites are built with all types of organizations in mind – meaning it should already perform most, if not all, of the tasks your employees will need.
  • Robust reporting: Perhaps the single biggest time saver for accounting, finance and IT professionals is a system that slices and dices data that they’d otherwise spend hours or days doing themselves.
  • Attractive, user-friendly interface: Anything may be an improvement from your legacy system, but be sure your new system is simple and easy to use – that is, if you want your team members to actually use it.
4. Ask your accounting, finance and IT team members for their opinions
Since they’re likely to be the biggest power users of your new system, be sure it’s one they want to use. Invest your time in listening to your team. The best people want to be engaged and certainly can provide value.

What else does your organization do to retain top talent? Comment below and let us know!

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