Finance, Engineering, and Operations. These are three groups that notoriously have a difficult time working together. But why? We all have the same goal: execute a task quickly and in the most cost-effective way possible.
Each group has its own approach to problem-solving, so it’s difficult to see the other point of view. It may be a challenge, but there is a path forward where these three teams can work together to create more functional processes that benefit everyone.
When new projects arise, each team plays a critical role in determining the best path forward. Issues emerge when each team does not completely understand how their work may impact another team.
A Real World Example
For example, engineers are given a scope of work from finance. They work to take bids from contractors to find the right team for the job. Given tight budgets and tight timelines, they are limited in the contractors they can choose from. After a long search, the engineering team identifies three options:
- The most expensive option, which is time efficient and will do the job right
- A financially good choice, but one that can’t get the job done within time constraints
- The cheapest and fastest option
Guess which team finance is going to choose? Cheap and fast. Almost every time.
Finance is working off the assumption that anyone the engineers recommend can get the job done, so why not go with the cheapest in order to stay under budget and on time?
We see it happen all the time. Engineering feels like their hands are tied by finance. Finance is trying to stay within budget for the highest ROI. So the best contractor for the job is rarely chosen. Now, who takes the brunt of these bad decisions?
The operations team is left with a product that doesn’t work well. The chosen solution is not helping productivity and will often require additional parts to function properly with the current equipment.
The maintenance required to keep the machines in good working order has also increased, yet the engineering team has a difficult time understanding why metrics can’t be met. So Operations has to explain how the new equipment isn’t quite right.
They’re often told to just deal with it because truly fixing it would go over budget in time, labor, and maintenance when the goal of the project was to cut costs.
Where do we go from here?
Let’s work together. The best thing we can do to improve efficiency is to get alignment from the key people influencing the project. Sometimes this means setting our egos aside — which means coming to terms with the idea that maybe you don’t know everything.
When decisions are being made, Finance, Engineering, and Operations all need to be involved in each step of the process. This is important because each team brings a unique perspective that can help prevent issues from arising before it’s too late.
Yes, this will require more meetings and a more open line of communication between each group. It also may accentuate other issues and challenges that each team needs to address.
Is it worth all the drama? Yes. The answer is always yes.
Once communication lines open, amazing things can happen. After the initial investment and hardships, a partnership between these groups will make way for more efficiency, fewer patch jobs, and an increase in returns.