F & A Report for a large Energy Company
“As the finance function has evolved over the past decade from a paper-driven, labor intensive clerical role to a more consultative role as advisor, analyst and business partner, many leading finance organizations have seen a corresponding shift in the mix of skills and competencies required to perform this new role.”
The Finance Organizational Assessment was conducted by TBI as part of Project San Francisco. The purpose of this assessment was to understand how the organizational structure and staffing impact the effectiveness of finance and accounting. The findings of this assessment were integrated with the findings of the process assessment and systems assessment to develop conclusions and recommendations based on the integration of process, systems and organization. The interest was in determining whether the current organization and its structure would meet the future business needs for the client.
The Organizational Assessment was led by a sub-team consisting of a senior consultant from TBI and three of the client’s Human Resource Senior Managers and the Labor Relations General Manager.
The team gathered information and data on structure, roles and responsibilities, culture, staff competencies, communication and leadership issues. The information was gathered through interviews with finance and accounting management and Human Resources and available documentation. Several assessment tools were administered to gather specific information regarding issues and concerns identified through initial data collection. The tools that were administered included an Organizational Structure Analysis, a Job Diagnostic Survey, a Roles and Responsibilities Assessment, a Coordination Mechanisms Analysis.
Organizational Structure Analysis
The Organizational Structure Analysis was done to look specifically at the viability of the client’s current Finance and Accounting organizational structure for the future and its benefits and challenges. The analysis focused on various elements of organizational structure including the degree of desirable decentralization of decision-making processes, need for “liaison mechanisms” to coordinate activities across dispersed organizational units, and the desirability of including target finance and accounting processes and support activities in a formal “shared services organization”. Analysis data were obtained through interviews and organizational documentation.
Job Diagnostic Survey
The Job Diagnostic Survey was administered to the client’s Finance and Accounting Organization. Its purpose was to assess cultural and human resource management factors that affect motivation and productivity in an organization.
The Job Diagnostic Survey was designed to focus on the key variables know to impact on employee motivation and subsequent productivity and job satisfaction. The motivating potential of a job (MPS) is measured and compared to the growth need strength (GNS) of the individuals in that job. Comparisons are made within the organization, both across different job types and across business units. The survey also measures some elements of work climate and culture.
This survey was administered by TBI for the client via email. The JDS was completed by 163 of the client’s employees (approximately 80% of the total F & A population)
Roles and Responsibilities Analysis
The Roles and Responsibilities Analysis was conducted to understand where there is lack of clarity regarding roles and responsibilities in the Finance and Accounting Organization as a whole. This included organizational units Corporate Center Finance, Energy Merchant Business Unit, Regulated Business Unit, and PT&I and Global. The data were derived from a questionnaire administered to the San Francisco Project Team members. They were asked to describe the 3 most clearly defined roles and responsibilities in the organization and the 3 least clear. The information was then analyzed to understand issues of authority and role conflict, and decision-making power. Some policy issues were also identified as an unplanned result.
Coordination Mechanisms Analysis
The Coordination Mechanisms Analysis was conducted to gather information specific to the mechanisms used by the Finance Organization to coordinate and liaise with other functions and organizations in support of effective and timely information sharing and coordination of management and operational processes. A questionnaire was administered to the San Francisco Project Team to gather input for this analysis.
In addition, as part of the TBI methodology, a workshop was conducted with the Process Team Lead, the Systems Team Lead and the Organizational Team Lead and the client Team lead to gain understanding of cross unit communication and collaboration challenges. The workshop focused on analysis of how processes, systems and organization as an integrated whole influence each other and the overall effectiveness of the Finance and Accounting Organization, and development of an integrated set of recommendations for improvement. These recommendations are included as part of the overall Project San Francisco Finance and Accounting Assessment results.
Key Findings, Conclusions, Recommendations
Organizational Structure Analysis
The form of decentralized organizational structure that the client has adopted is appropriate for the business strategy currently in place. This strategy allows for relative autonomy of the business units and individual accountability for profit and loss. The challenges of this type of structure are in assuring the linkages and coordination mechanisms needed to effectively function within the enterprise and coordinate work across business units are in place, effective and fully functioning.
- It is recommended that the client design and implement a corporate shared services organization including enterprise-wide finance and accounting processes and services and consider re-centralizing enterprise-wide information technology and human resources management functions in this shared services organization, as well.
- Within the shared services organization a Corporate Information Officer (CIO) should be hired to set strategy for, develop and lead the IT operation to provide optimized IT service to the client’s business units and corporate operations and focus on future needs in support of the evolving business.
Job Diagnostic Survey
An overriding finding and concern is that the Growth Need Strength (the level of career growth and challenge required by individuals) of the client’s Finance and Accounting organization is not high enough to carry the organization into the future. Organizations in transition and change as with mergers and acquisitions, moving to new and entrepreneurial markets, and planning business unit spin offs, need a large percentage of their employee population to include those who thrive on change and challenge and are not satisfied with status quo.
In addition, it was found that the people who responded to the Job Diagnostic Survey who hold jobs in the category Senior/Lead Accounting Analysts were the more educated, have higher levels of growth need strength and are more dissatisfied with their jobs than those in other job functions. The data indicate that this pocket of people should be strongly considered for their potential as future leaders of the client’s Finance and Accounting Organization and steps taken to improve the motivating potential of their jobs.
- It is recommended that an initiative be developed and put in place to assess gaps between skill and competency requirements and employee qualifications and develop a strategy to address future human resource development needs. It is highly recommended that this initiative be integrated with process reengineering efforts that are currently under way or may be conducted in the future. The most effective approaches to improvement of organizational effectiveness address process, systems and personnel issues simultaneously.
- It is recommended that a program be designed and developed to quickly identify and develop future leaders in the client’s Finance and Accounting Organization. The development program should be a fast track process where future leaders are identified and included as part of the ongoing and future reengineering and organizational change projects.
- It is recommended that a program be created and implemented to develop current leadership by enhancing their competencies, particularly in the areas of employee management and motivation, and preparing them for the future through various formal and informal experiences and events.
Roles and Responsibilities Analysis
There are several processes in the organization in which further refinement, clarification and boundary identification in regard to the roles and responsibilities, and policy are needed. Improvement in liaison devices such as cross-functional working groups and common performance objectives would be highly beneficial. Feedback was provided from the Process Assessments and the System Assessments that also support these conclusions.
The Roles and Responsibilities Analysis indicates that roles and responsibility clarification and policy issues are more significant in the Forecasting and Planning, Corporate Finance, Bank Reconciliation, Cash Management and Fuel Accounting processes.
- It is recommended that initiatives be developed and put in place to clarify roles and responsibilities, policy and boundaries between and among the Finance and Accounting organizations, beginning with the areas of most confusion and highest impact. To make these most effective, it is highly recommended that these initiatives be included as part of any process reengineering effort that may be currently under way or conducted in the near future (as opposed to separate projects).
- It is recommended that in the cases of finance and accounting processes found not to require reengineering but having clarity issues regarding roles and responsibilities (i.e., Fuel Accounting and Corporate Finance), focused “stakeholder” workshops should be undertaken to establish greater clarity.
Coordination Mechanisms Analysis
The Coordination Mechanisms Analysis found that some coordination mechanisms are in place. However, their effectiveness in providing a mechanism for the mutual exchange of needed information and coordinated action is not always adequate.
It was also found that corporate performance targets used to link and incent the business units and corporate finance as a team with a common objective are not always effectively established and used. Critical focus should be placed on improving the goal setting process for enterprise earnings per share or other targets, clearly linking business unit performance incentives with enterprise goals. Improved mechanisms are also needed for monitoring and managing goal attainment.
- It is recommended that cross functional work groups be developed along with communication strategy plans for each work group. In this vein, a specific recommendation is that a plan should be developed and implemented to communicate the results of Project San Francisco to the Finance and Accounting Organization.
- It is recommended that Focus Workshops be conducted to improve the process of setting and managing by annual corporate EPS goals and related Business Units goals to better assure understanding and acceptance, and to strengthen on-going monitoring and feedback processes on goal achievement. This would include clarifying overall corporate performance targets, goals and developing linking mechanisms and monitoring tools. The results of the Focus Workshops should include implementation plans for incorporating the coordination mechanisms and monitoring tools in an efficient and timely manner.
The Organizational Assessment assessed organizational structure, job dynamics, roles and responsibilities, governance/policy clarity, and liaison mechanisms. The Finance and Accounting organizational structure that followed the client’s divisionalization was inadequately implemented and has led in some cases to poor communication and coordination and additional process inefficiency. For the client to function successfully in a “consultative role as advisor, analyst and business partner” for the company, the recommendations listed above should be implemented. It is essential that human capital strategies be developed to meet the client’s current and future business goals and objectives. Recommended initiatives are detailed in specific project outlines prepared as part of the deliverables of the Project San Francisco assessment phase.
“To develop a team with the right mix of skills and competencies, senior executives (should), as a part of an agency wide strategic approach to human capital planning
- determine the leadership, management and functional/technical competencies required for the finance organization to support…mission, goals, and objectives,
- evaluate the finance organization’s current and future human capital capabilities,
- identify skill gaps, and
- develop human capital policies and practices that will allow agencies to fill the identified skill gaps.”