11 Sep Change and Climb – People Management and Accountability
Ensuring personal accountability is a concern for firms in many sectors and the challenge has been made somewhat harder by an increase in remote working. The Finance Sector has a bigger accountability challenge than most, however, with the need to satisfy a broad range of FCA guidelines particularly in relation to employee conduct – keeping your team accountable without the added pressure of remote working is no easy feat.
Late last year the FCA introduced the Senior Managers and Certification regime; a set of new regulations designed to ensure staff at all levels of a firm accept a degree personal accountability. Replacing the ‘Approved Persons Regime’ this new accountability framework places greater emphasis on individual accountability and the importance of clearly defining responsibilities.
Accountability in our New Working World
The slow transition towards flexible working practices began long before the current crisis; with a relentless but extremely gradual increase in the practice seen throughout the last decade. However, particularly in the UK, many company bosses have viewed remote working with scepticism. Posing questions such as:
“How can I keep a remote workforce productive?”
“How can I hold individuals accountable?”
Ensuring productivity and accountability requires giving your remote team access to the right tools. We have already talked about the importance of communication solutions, now we’ll explore the tools you can introduce to structure workflows, monitor your team’s output in terms of productivity and quality, and ensure you have the oversight required to hold individuals to account where necessary.
Introducing Task Management – accountability framework for your remote team
Assigning tasks through a project management solution, allows you to assign who, how and when information to each task. This information stays pinned to the task after its completion so that errors can be traced to the source, and incidents of misconduct can be thoroughly investigated. This isn’t about taking a ‘big brother’ approach to staff management, it’s just about maintaining a degree of oversight that focusses the minds of your employees on their particular responsibilities and ensures that they operate in a diligent and compliant manner.
Project/task management software varies widely in its complexity but it all exists with the common aim of adding structure to the working week and driving efficiency.
Here are a few reasons Project management tools are useful for driving productivity and ensuring accountability in the finance sector:
- Who, How and When. As mentioned, setting up a task in most task/project management solutions allows you to attach information useful for record-keeping and accountability purposes. Information like start dates, end dates, assignees, descriptions, document attachments and status updates keep employees on track, provide managers with useful task progression information and allows specific responsibilities to be precisely assigned to individuals. Some project management platforms such as Microsoft Project allow ‘dependencies’ to be configured. These define relationships between separate tasks, so for example if one task must be finished before another can start you’ll be able to configure a dependency that ensures tasks progress in an orderly fashion. Ideal in the Finance sector where procedural compliance is vital.
- Define clear boundaries and responsibilities. Different platforms approach this in different ways. Microsoft 365 users will be familiar with the term ‘Groups.’ A ‘group’ could be a number of people with a common goal, shared responsibilities, who work in the same department or who have similar levels of authority. A ‘group’ could be centred around a certain department (HR or accounting for example) and you could configure such a group to have certain permissions and access rights. In a task management context, you could set up a group around a body of work and create subgroups to focus on individuals or smaller groups on more specific responsibilities.
- Detailed reporting. Task/project management platforms almost always feature some reporting abilities. Simpler solutions will feature straightforward dashboards showing task progression information, whereas more elaborate platforms enable the production of detailed reports featuring KPIs and other metrics. Reports let you look ahead and plan work around future events, deadlines (great for accountants) and staffing issues, so you can plan intelligently to ensure maximum productivity.
- Utilise automation for improved productivity. Many aspects of task/project management now feature automation. Reporting can be automated and you can configure automatic email notification to send when tasks are assigned or completed. Business Process Automation (BPA) can also be implemented to eliminate time-consuming manual tasks and reduce human error.
- Improved productivity means a better customer experience. By adding structure and streamlining complex processes, project management software can be used to speed up complex multi-stage tasks. You’re, clients won’t see the inner workings, but they will notice tasks taking less time to complete.
A task management platform is another tool you can deploy to give oversight, leverage control and ensure compliance among your remote workforce.
Data security, communication and accountability are just some of the concerns Finance sector firms have when it comes to developing a remote working strategy. We know that for some firms in the sector there is a strong appetite for a swift return to normality. We understand that!
However, with the prospect of further restrictions on working life in the near future, it’s important to be prepared. Alternatively, you may be looking to permanently incorporate remote working into your corporate culture. Perhaps a hybrid arrangement, combining both office-based and working from home beyond the current crisis – an arrangement that could be of permanent benefit to both you and your team.
Choose an IT partner who understands your struggle.
In a highly regulated environment such as the finance sector, it’s important to have partners who understand the constraints within which you operate.
With years of experience supporting clients in the Financial Services sector, we understand your struggle. Firms in your sector typically want quality solutions that minimise risk while empowering productive workforces. They want the best, zero-compromise technology that enables exceptional service delivery while ensuring regulatory compliance through the implementation of sound process and data controls.
There is a way forward
Urban Network has years of experience in deploying efficient modern workplace solutions, which are tailored to your working practices and have security best practice built-in by design.
To learn more about tackling your challenges, please get your free copy of our ‘Change and Climb’ guide tailored to businesses in the financial sector.
We welcome the opportunity to provide you with a free, no-obligation discovery call – in which we’ll offer guidance in helping you answer the questions contained within this article, and map-out solutions to tackle those challenges, quickly, before they become an issue.