Your Guide to Structuring Your Finance Team
First-time business owners and expert startup leaders alike encounter challenges while running a company—especially in the early stages of growth.
One potential pressure point is structuring finance team personnel, procedures, and productivity tools (like accounting software). How can you build a finance team that meets your brand’s needs without over-staffing or creating too many redundancies?
The following guide breaks down everything you need to know about structuring a finance team. Whether you are recruiting a new team for the first time or overhauling your existing accounting department, the tips below can help you optimize your financial operations and build a system that works.
Build a Powerhouse Finance Team in 5 Simple Steps
The process described below is straightforward, streamlined, and simple—but structuring finance teams takes time and dedication. These steps will help you through the nitty-gritty of building a five-star accounting department.
1. Determine Your Needs
Before you interview potential candidates, determine what you need your finance department to accomplish.
Depending on the size, age, and legal structure of your company, you might need team members to perform:
- Basic accounting duties
- Tax and reporting preparation
- Financial forecasting
- Capital raise functions
- Loan application processes
- Audit preparation
- High-level financial consulting
Ask your management or executive team a few key questions:
- What are we currently doing, and are these solutions working?
- How much money do we have to spend on financial personnel and tools?
- What approach do we want to take to build a team?
- Do we need to hire numerous professionals simultaneously to meet our needs?
- Can we progressively add team members as the need arises?
- Should we hire staff to complete individual projects as needed?
Once you have a clear idea of what you need to accomplish, you can start onboarding new team members.
2. Create a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP)
After you add new players to the roster, they can help you build a standard operating procedure (SOP) for your finance department.
Your SOP should answer two important questions:
- What will the finance team do on a day-to-day basis?
- How should they do it?
A strong SOP will become the backbone of your accounting department. It should account for:
- Individual and team roles’ responsibilities
- Standard procedures for financial tasks
- Software and other digital tools used to accomplish departmental goals
- Your finance team’s interaction with the rest of your personnel and systems
3. Brainstorm Structural Solutions
Digging deeper into the last SOP goal above, you will need to determine how your accounting staff will synergize with other departments.
Effective structures must account for interdepartmental coordination. After all, your finance team will make decisions and complete tasks based on:
- Your executive board’s company goals
- Your operations staff’s output
- Your HR department’s priorities and needs
- Your sales team’s ability to close deals
Your SOP should outline how all of the cogs in your company engine interlock and move to accomplish a singular goal—making your business successful.
4. Implement Your Finance Team Structure
Brainstorming solutions and building an airtight SOP accomplish only one of two key goals when building a new company system:
- Creating a stencil for “business as planned”
- Responding to “work as completed”
You should do your best to design an ideal structure—but it has to work. You can improve the likelihood of success by implementing your plan in ways that:
- Accommodate your other departments
- Efficiently spend your available funds
- Account for time-sensitive tasks, like:
- Tax filing deadlines
- Capital campaign timelines
- Fiscal year opening and closing
5. Monitor and Audit System Function
Arguably the most important step on this list, regularly reviewing your finance team’s performance is crucial to building a system that works.
After all, structuring your finance team is not a task to be completed once and put to bed—you will encounter curveballs and changes throughout the life of your business that will require occasional system changes.
As you build your departmental structure, keep your eyes peeled for improvement opportunities. You can achieve this by:
- Regularly monitoring your department’s performance
- Auditing your system for inefficiencies and vulnerabilities on a scheduled basis
Things to Consider When Building a Finance Team
The checklist above can help you build a top-tier finance team—but what else should you consider as you establish or overhaul your accounting department, hire new staff, and write new SOPs?
Remote working is not going away anytime soon—experts predict that professional remote job opportunities will continue to increase through 2023.
As you structure your finance team, determine how remote work can help you meet your goals, save money, and increase productivity. Envision how one of the following structural solutions can fit into your operations model:
- A fully in-house accounting staff
- A completely remote financial team
- A hybrid model combining the best elements of both in-person and remote working
Outsourced, Part-Time, and Fractional Finance Staffing
Just like remote working, the types of personnel available to your business are changing. Consider implementing less traditional solutions in your finance team structure, like:
- Part-time staff who can fulfill their role without working 40 hours per week
- Outsourced professionals from financial services providers
- Fractional employees who only work on an as-needed basis
As with implementing a remote operational structure, you can craft a customized system that works best for your business—perhaps your financial team could work best when staffed by a combination of full-time, part-time, outsourced, and fractional professionals.
Project-Based and Short-Term Financial Personnel
You may not need to leverage all of your financial personnel resources all year long. In fact, you may be able to meet your company’s needs by implementing:
- Project-based staff – If you want to incorporate a new accounting software, transition to a different legal structure, or develop a new procedure, consider hiring finance professionals to help with individual projects as opportunities arise.
- Short-term or interim employees – If you are rethinking your accounting department structure in preparation for a key employee’s retirement, resignation, or temporary leave, you can harness the operational power of interim staffing solutions.
Building an effective finance department structure is all about using the tools available to you to meet your company’s needs. Project-based and short-term staffing are just two potential solutions your accounting team can harness in pursuit of efficiency, cost savings, and peak performance
CFO Hub: Providing Expert Guidance for Structuring Finance Teams
Structuring finance team staff, roles, and tools is no small feat. While the process will take time and require recurring check-ins and modifications, the tips above can help you craft an accounting department that crushes goals, optimizes time, and engages productively with the rest of your brand.
When you need expert financial staffing solutions, turn to CFO Hub. Our team of finance professionals can help you complete day-to-day accounting functions, brainstorm innovative solutions to company vulnerabilities, and plan for the financial future of your business.
Our finance as a service model can fill every accounting niche in companies of all sizes, ages, and specialties. Contact us to start building a future-proof finance team.