Part 12 of the Social Business For Real Work series

The Challenge

Most social business case studies concern edge-of-the-organisation departments such as sales, marketing and customer service. Opportunities for improving communication between and within other departments in the company such as Finance, HR and Legal are often overlooked or ignored. This is largely due to the misconception that social networking means indiscriminately sharing everything, which is incompatible with the need for confidentiality in these departments.

The Social Business Advantage

Finance teams can benefit from the easier access to information and expertise provided by enterprise social networks while maintaining the necessary level of confidentiality. A good social network with task functionality can actually increase the accountability in a finance team by providing a clear audit trail of who did what and when they did it, something that is often very time-consuming to reconstruct from email discussions.

Confidential information can be held in private communities, the membership of which is updated as employees join and leave the company. This makes business continuity far easier, as company knowledge is held in one central place, not distributed between employees inboxes.

Social networks also provide an ideal way of providing information to the rest of the company about financial procedures and policies, and receiving feedback and questions on this information.

Example

Nicola in the Finance team has recently updated the company’s policy for employees reclaiming expenses. She publishes this to the “Start Here” community which is managed by the HR team but has regular contributions from Finance.

Carol is a new employee in the Marketing team. She finds the document alongside all the other company policies and is able to ask for clarification about something she doesn’t understand. The comments are available to everyone else who might have the same question, reducing the number of times Nicola has to answer the question.

 

Martha is a new member of the Finance team, and is helping out with quarter-end reconciliation activities for the first time. As this work is performed within a private community instead of via email and documents on shared drives, Martha is able to look back at previous quarters to see the procedures followed. She is quickly able to access the both the relevant files and the discussions that took place about these files. Without the community, she would have missed the context of these files unless she spent time piecing together conversations from her predecessor’s email inbox.

 

Brad in the sales team is working on a major customer deal which is going to require an innovative and out-of-the-ordinary pricing model if the deal is to close. He creates a task to:

  • First discuss this with his manager, Ceymore, to agree the proposed pricing model
  • Then get approval from the Finance team to ensure the model meets the company’s standard policies
  • Finally get approval from the CEO.
  • Discussions taking place in the task remain private and only visible to invited members.

 

Make It Real

  • Set up private communities for the Finance department. If the organisation is small enough, this may be just one community for the whole department, though for most organisations apart from the very smallest this is likely to be several smaller communities at various different layers for each group who need to work together in private.
  • Encourage the Finance team to be active members of the wider network, publishing policy documents they are responsible for, and actively responding to queries related to these from other departments.
  • Try to move as much email-based discussion as possible into private discussions in the social network. If other people need to take over these discussions when employees move within the company or leave, they can simply be granted access, rather than being sent a long email trail.