If you're finding it hard to hire staff for your back-office, you are not alone. There is increasing news coverage of organizations struggling to hire the staff they need to fill key roles. Businesses of all types state that they are having trouble hiring despite high unemployment.
And the nonprofit sector is not excluded. In today's blog, we'll share how to use a sample church succession plan to help you keep your back-office moving forward even when hiring has stalled.
Expect an Emotional Exercise
"It’s always emotional before it’s tactical. Never forget the emotion involved in succession planning,” says Todd Clark, Senior Associate in Senior Leadership at Slingshot Group. The back-office succession planning is not unlike other areas of your organization. And because this emotional exercise is not something you'll take on every day, or at all in your career, it's important to rely on good counselors.
At AcctTwo we’ve worked with more than 800 churches across 33 states for more than 10 years, and our staff has a combined 250 years of experience. We’ve walked in your shoes and seen first-hand finance leadership and back-office staff transitions. Here's what to consider as you undertake succession planning:
CFOs are crucially important – they often act as the connector between the financial health of the organization and the Senior Leadership (Head Pastor, CEO, President, etc.). Ensuring the right person is in this role is essential to the leadership team and growth of the organization. Typically, the CFO reports to the board or elders. While most organizations have a succession plan for the CFO, their senior finance roles aren’t getting the attention that they need.
“Finance and Accounting roles are often overlooked for succession planning. However, they are mission critical to running the organization. At Concord Church, we are working hard to make sure that every role has a backup. I know it isn’t possible for every organization to employ or train a backup for every person, in those cases build a relationship with a third-party organization, such as an accounting resource, legal firm, IT provider, etc. If something happened to me, I know that our accounting partner, AcctTwo, could easily step in and keep the show running,” said Tammy Bunting, CFO at Concord Church.
Implementing a backup team, or prioritizing cross-training, can strengthen teams, provide more opportunities, and create a safety net in case key team members leave. Also, according to Insperity, “it can be useful to prepare a company for dealing with challenges presented by unforeseen emergencies, such as a sudden death, a disaster or a pandemic.”
The CFO needs a back-office that is fully integrated with a best-in-class financial platform for maximum operational efficiency. According to Neal Joseph in Outcomes Magazine, “One thing that most agree will be needed in the future is someone to fill a new combined role as strategist, technologist, and digital guru—perhaps best described as a new understanding or definition of a CTO (Chief Technology Officer).” As part of the succession plan and department initiatives, you should work toward optimizing back-office support functions by standardizing and automating processes. Ultimately, this will deliver operational savings that can be reallocated to organizational or mission initiatives.
Benefits of adopting technology as part of church leadership succession planning:
- Gain real-time insights across your organization through more accurate forecasting and reporting
- Automate your accounting processes for greater efficiency
- Enable anywhere, anytime, 24/7 access to your church’s finances from the cloud
“With Sage Intacct, we’re so happy that we’re no longer tied to certain Windows machines - we can work anywhere and on any device,” said Jason Hall, Accounting Manager at A Jesus Church Family. “Sage Intacct’s dimensions are invaluable, allowing us to provide better information to our leadership about restricted funds, ministries and locations. AcctTwo brought impressive church knowledge and team investment to the project, making it a great success.”
Accountant & Back-Office Staff
Again, faith-based organizations often hire with their heart instead of skill-set, and that means that your back-office staff isn’t as skilled as you need them to be. Or, you have a few accounting employees with the right skills that manage everything. Is your department set-up to handle attrition or long-term absence? This might be the time to consider accounting outsourcing in your succession plans.
Benefits of Finance as a Service, outsourced accounting:
- Focus on your organizational mission
- Obtain a bigger network of industry expertise
- Gain access to best-in-class services, technology, and partners
- Improve organizational efficiencies and streamline processes
- Obtain real-time access to your data
- Eliminate cross training from your to-do list: outsourcing means that you don’t have to worry about it
Outsourcing your accounting function is all about balance and outcomes. You need to provide your leadership team with an up-to-date status of the financial health of your organization; but at the same time, you are responsible for leading your mission. The work you do, and the lives you impact, has so much more long-term value to your organization than processing accounting transactions. You’re fighting a daily battle between the business side of your organization, the spiritual side of your organization, and the daily challenges of old technology and inefficient processes. By outsourcing your accounting, you can focus on your mission while the daily accounting activities are being cared for by AcctTwo's experts.
“If you have an opportunity, reach out to AcctTwo to explore how they can come alongside you, maybe as you lose staff or as people quit and you don’t know what to do. I just can’t emphasize enough this idea that hiring people, maintaining people, trying to pay medical and benefits, and being the first staff to get let-go...this outsourcing relationship can open doors for us that we didn’t have before,” Tammy Bunting, CFO at Concord Church.
Download the full eBook: Succession Planning for the Back-Office
In our eBook, we dig into church and nonprofit succession planning and discuss why it is so important. We provide stories and statistical data to help you clearly understand the necessity of succession planning.
In our eBook we cover the following topics:
- The Purpose of Succession Planning
- The Importance of Good Leadership
- Culture Really Matters
- What You Need to Know About Hiring Millennials
- Hiring from Within
- Succession Planning for the Back-Office
- Red Flags to Watch Out For
- What’s Next?