Most businesses have a Sandra or a Simon, someone in Accounts who’s privy to all the money stuff from payroll, to bank accounts, debts, and sales invoices, cashflow and more. Unwittingly Directors encourage the Sandra’s of this world to build a virtual wall, they need to be secretive, keep information very private, often using separate systems which only Sandra and a Director can access, be extra careful with personal information – all very valid until slowly over time the wall becomes a massive problem. The Board of Directors realise, often too late, that they too are on the outside of the wall. As Sandra becomes comfortable, confident, and brilliant at her position she fiercely defends it. Resisting any changes because of the risk to all the financial transactions she protects – I mean processes every day.
Here comes the ransom.
Without change there is no growth, so as businesses evolve, they develop new strategies and implement new systems of working. However, the opposite can happen in Accounts teams, who are conversely becoming disenfranchised from the rest of the business. They’ve learnt systems and processes that work, so it’s understandable that they don’t know how advancements in management thinking and technology could make this even more efficient. The Board knows the new systems will make their operations much better, helping them to grow and making financial management of their business even better, providing powerful information to help decision making. But if Sandra resists this then what will happen if we can’t invoice or can’t run payroll? We’re screwed. Without you realising it Sandra in Accounts is holding you to ransom.
Now you can see how Accounts can be one of the silent, yet deadly resistors to change, so how do you change this?
You need to get Sandra to realise that trust goes both ways. Just as you trusted Sandra and she became one of your confidantes in the business, Sandra needs to trust you.
The best way to do this is to involve your ‘Sandra in Accounts’ in any systems changes you are scoping from the very beginning. You want her to trust your judgement that you need to make systems improvements to benefit the business operations and that you would prefer her input from the start so she can implement this for you just as she did the previous Accounts processes. If you involve Accounts from the outset you can prevent them from resisting any new system, instead of pushing back during the sales process, they can be tasked with scoping what they need and constructively challenging suppliers to demonstrate how this will work in practice. Experienced providers will understand the fear Directors have, e.g. What happens if Sandra doesn’t want to do the changes or if Sandra leaves? More importantly, they will understand her fears: What if we put the system in and the API doesn’t work, and I can’t get the invoices out?
We don’t sell to businesses who don’t recognise or respect the Sandra’s of this world; because we need them on board to make implementation easy too. We get it. I love explaining how the API we use to integrate their accounts package with our system has worked for over 15 years on hundreds of implementations so it’s robust. We show them how we will test it with them, so they get the confidence we know they need. These are great conversations to have – you just have to bring Sandra to the table – we’ll get you out of the ransom.