Fast-growing companies must assess whether they have strong infrastructure in place to support not only current business needs, but also future expansion. That’s the core message from a recent webinar, “Scaling for Organizational Growth: Make or Break Decisions,” from Protiviti and global technology computer corporation, Oracle.
“Sometimes, companies are growing so fast that they fall behind,” said Jeff Henley, executive vice chairman of Oracle, who was interviewed during the webinar by Protiviti managing director Steve Hobbs. “People can lose their way if they don’t scale up their infrastructure — not just technology, but controls, processes, the management team. … You need to focus on everything.”
Also on the panel was Tyler Chapman, director of finance and accounting for Lumosity, an online brain-training and neuroscience research company. Chapman explained that Lumosity’s management team recently came to the realization that the company needed to take its support functions — particularly, the finance function — to the next level if it was going to handle future growth.
“We have two key decisions we’re working through right now,” he said. “One is, ‘What is the ideal timing to invest in the finance organization?’ It’s not just about bringing it up to speed, but investing ahead of growth, essentially. … And how do we do it? How do we build it out?’”
Make a plan and leverage technology
Chapman said the first step for Lumosity was to develop a formal plan to determine what investments should be made in systems, people and processes to make the finance function scalable. One decision for the company was to move the finance function to a cloud-based enterprise resource planning (ERP) system from Oracle, which will soon go live, according to Chapman.
Henley noted that cloud-based solutions are making it easier for fast-growing companies like Lumosity to revamp and modernize all of their functions — from finance to sales and marketing to human resources — relatively quickly and inexpensively.
He emphasized that companies looking to the cloud as they expand should consider a wide range of factors when selecting vendors and solutions — from the functionality and scalability of applications to security and privacy to corporate governance issues. All of these things will become only more important to the company’s ability to operate optimally as the business grows.
View infrastructure as an integral part of the business — and not an afterthought.
Consider moving to the cloud to help support growth and to access new technology innovations faster and more cost-effectively.
Prioritize action items and investments, and develop a realistic plan and timeline to achieve those goals.
As companies grow and become more complex, their finance functions often struggle to keep pace. To make sure your finance organization is staying on top of leading practices, download the free 2015 Benchmarking the Accounting & Finance Function report from Robert Half and Financial Executives Research Foundation (FERF), the research affiliate of Financial Executives International (FEI). The report provides insight on topics such as workforce management, accounting operations, financial systems, sourcing, internal controls and compliance.