Rutherford Cross continued its Interim Roundtable Series with a virtual meeting of 10 Interim finance professionals from a variety of sectors including; Manufacturing, FMCG, Construction, Technology, Financial Services, Transport and the Public Sector.
The agenda was split into two segments, initially focusing on Virtual Interviewing and On-boarding, followed by a discussion on Digital Transformation and what the future ways of working for an interim might look like. Here we share the key points from the discussion.
We heard from a few of the attendees and their recent experiences of both being interviewed and being the interviewer during lockdown. General consensus is that is it fairly similar to a face to face interview where rapport can be built easily and it is possible to get as good a grasp of the role and requirements.
Key points included the importance of finding a quiet space where you can concentrate without interruption. It was also pointed out that there is not the need to dress in full suit and business attire necessarily as generally the interviewers have been in smart/casual as they are working at home.
With there being no opportunity to visit company premises and get a feel for the office it is important to ask questions around the company culture and try to build a picture of what it is like working there.
Some felt the screen can be a barrier to getting interviewees to relax into the interview at times so it is even more important than before to try and build rapport at the start. Our participants also highlighted that virtual interviews could be adopted by businesses permanently now for first stages as it reduced the need for travel and is time and cost effective.
The discussion focused around a number of recent examples of people having gone through this process and what was involved. While it is an unusual way to begin an assignment, businesses have been very efficient at making sure people have all the equipment/IT support to work from home effectively.
Microsoft Teams/Zoom are used regularly to make introductions to other staff and these introductions have developed into daily video calls with different people in the organisation allowing the interims to make valuable connections across the organisations. It was highlighted these scheduled one-on-one meetings can be more productive as they are uninterrupted.
The question posed to our participants was “do we expect there to be significant investment in Digital Transformation from business in the future?”
This Digital Transformation ranged from large scale ERP Implementation Programmes to smaller projects such as utilising tools such as Power BI and Anaplan. The initial reaction to lockdown has seen some larger scale Programmes put on hold but there has been significant Digital Transformation across all businesses by necessity with all finance staff currently working from home.
The speed at which companies both large and small reacted to adapt to working from home and facilitate communication through Zoom and Microsoft Teams has helped minimise disruption for a number of interim and permanent finance professionals. Most businesses are having to embrace and consider more agile ways of working.
Anaplan has allowed Customer Service and Contact Services to be delivered virtually at home rather than the team having to be on-site. Power BI is a Cloud based Business Analytics Software which provides a visual representation of how the business is performing and is being utilised effectively in Cashflow analysis and forecasting. Qlikview is similar to Power BI and can be accessed through the Cloud. The cost of implementing such tools is a fraction of the cost of ERP implementations. Cloud based solutions are particularly effective for home based working but also require investment in IT Security.
New Normal – Vision for Interims
Working practices during lockdown are highlighting some areas where we can be more efficient in the future. The ability to conduct Team Meetings over Zoom and Microsoft Teams may well take away the requirement to travel two or three hours each way for a meeting in the future. Also there are many workers who are proving that their roles can be delivered to some degree working from home.
The downside of working from home includes isolation for some, having to juggle work with looking after young children, and also missing out on the casual conversations that naturally occur when we are in the office that often lead to real business benefits whether they be commercial or people related.
The discussion around our virtual roundtable was that the new normal will probably be a hybrid of what we are doing now and how we used to operate. Working practices will differ from company to company with factors such as location, sector, and mind-set of Leadership teams determining the new normal.
The desire to work from home will differ from individual to individual with some embracing it and others struggling with it. It will become more common for Finance staff both interim and permanent to be able to work from home at least one or two days a week and we will probably see a significant drop in inter-city travel for meetings that can be otherwise conducted virtually.
At Rutherford Cross we have been able to support a number of Interim appointments during lockdown with our clients and candidates utilising Virtual Interviewing and Virtual On-boarding. Our Interims who have been engaged this way are finding that they are very much working effectively from home providing the information required by the business as normal, co-ordinating and communicating with team members and colleagues effectively through virtual calls.
Currently these interims bring with them the added benefit of having a wealth of experience gained from having worked in a number of assignments and turnaround situations and this experience is proving hugely valuable to clients during these exceptionally challenging times. We plan to hold our next Virtual Interim Roundtable over the coming weeks.