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How to best manage a finance project with several consulting firms involved

Naturally, at some point, a company will yell out a widespread call for “help!” Faced with a complex project or a tricky transaction, they will need to rely on outside experts and consultants who can get them through it. Companies generally don’t have round-the-clock full-timers who can fill every need that pops up.

The call for assistance may require more than one resource, such as legal expertise, an audit firm or consultants, who can dig into a complex technical accounting matter (like, ahem, RoseRyan). When managing multiple firms on a special project, it helps to consciously build good relationships from the get-go. The service providers can mutually benefit and so can you. I noticed this firsthand during a recent engagement with one of our enterprise clients.

I can’t speak for other service providers, but I have found that teamwork during these projects is truly powerful. It can require a conscious effort to work well together, which in the end can result in better efficiencies and superior results for the client than otherwise may have occurred.

1. Prepare for the unexpected. I was recently working on an ongoing fixed assets project that involved very manual processes. Then everything changed. The client announced a big structural move that put all hands on deck and all milestones on super-crunch mode. Tight deadlines were immediately established. Everything became time sensitive.

When you’re overseeing a big finance project involving multiple people from different firms, whether the team is onsite temporarily or you’re dealing with full-time staff, everyone will look to you—you set the tone. When you’re prepared for potential issues, you’re more likely to be calm when there is a shift in strategy and you can get everyone focused on what they need to do next.

2. Request everyone document new processes. This takes some up-front work but can be a big time saver in the long run. New processes get developed as the team works with managers and other employees, and those new processes should be documented in detail and with illustrations. This was a common practice during the work we were doing and saved us whenever we need to get a new team member up to speed. When everyone has a point of reference, double work can be avoided and so can redundant discussions.

3. Encourage teamwork. When you have a mix of talent from different firms, you’re getting the best of everyone—their particular specialties all at once. You’re also creating a scenario where the people involved may not instinctively act and behave like a team. By letting everyone know you expect them to work closely with each other, keeping everyone and you in the loop, you’ll create a team even if your time together is fairly brief.

Sometimes this can be as simple as setting up a respectful atmosphere and treating everyone like a cohesive unit with multiple people on your status emails as well as regular group meetings. It’s more efficient when everyone is on the same page, and you benefit by getting a coordinated effort by your business partners.

At the beginning of one of the projects we did for this enterprise client, a RoseRyan team member identified a way to automate a process, and she shared that knowledge with the entire team. She could have kept the information to herself and let others on the team try to figure it out for themselves, but that would have slowed things down. The greater good (the end results, efficiencies and project success) should rule the day, not personal agendas or letting one service provider look better than another.

On this project, we heard from the client afterward that we all made a great team. We had “a perfect combination,” according to the client, of experienced consultants from RoseRyan who supported and trained the more junior-level team members from another firm.

The result: The client’s budget stayed on track, we met the deadlines, and the formation of a great team won us great trust all around. We’re team players through and through.

As one of RoseRyan’s finance aces, Susan Tan specializes in general accounting, consolidation, FP&A and financial modeling. She has been with us since 2010.

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