Removing the barriers on the way to European high-performance finance functions


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One of the most important staff units in an organization is the finance function, as this function maintains the relations with all parts of the organization and operates at a management team level. Therefore, this function needs to transform itself into a high-performance finance function (HPFF). Unfortunately, finance functions encounter many barriers before they can start this transformation. In this article, the research question “What are the most important barriers which have to be dealt with in order for the finance function to start its transition to a high-performance finance function?’ is addressed. For this, a review of the professional literature (as no academic studies could be found on the topic), a small-scale survey among finance professionals, and Delphi research with 14 highly experienced finance experts were conducted. The results of the research were the following Top 10 of barriers of most important obstacles: 1) inefficient and not integrated business processes; 2) data not (yet) in order; 3) insufficient leadership and insufficient will to change; 4) no culture of change and improvement in the finance function; 5) inadequate ICT systems; 6) lack of buy-in from the business for the transformation; 7) insufficient knowledge in the finance function of the business; 8) not the right capacities/people/skills in the finance function; 9) insufficient/unclear business objectives and priorities; 10) business managers do not sufficiently manage the analyses and insights provided by the finance function.

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    • Figure 1. Schematic overview of the Delphi research process
    • Table 1. Top 10 of most severe barriers in the transformation into HPFF