It is a commonly held view that finance is done by accountants in offices and programmes are done by people who get out into the field, doing the actual work!
|Often there can be tensions between these two groups, with battle lines firmly drawn in the ‘finance vs programme’ war.|
|Programme staff say...||Finance staff say...|
|They have no idea how it really works in the field and the constraints we are under||They always have new excuses for lack of receipts or late submission|
|It takes so long to get funds to implement activities||We need proper authorisation procedures|
|We are expected to code requisitions and read financial reports but that is their job||They don’t realise that they are responsible for the finances of their projects|
|They just talk in complicated words
I don’t understand
|They don’t know anything about finance|
One of the key challenges in successful financial management is getting finance and programme staff to feel that they are working together towards the same goal.
Each side needs to understand how their roles are both important to achieving the organisation’s mission so that they can be bound together as a strong united team. The following resources are a great place to start - and may surprise you!
This document covers the financial tasks for job descriptions of the Board, Chief Excecutive, programme managers and finance team.
How well integrated is your organisation?
Use Mango's integration checklist to assess your own organisation.
What can be done to bring finance and programme together?
1. Encourage finance staff to stay committed to programme goals.
- This is extremely important for good financial management. But it is often overlooked. It can be achieved by encouraging finance staff to spend time working with programme staff and beneficiaries. For instance, finance staff could run training workshops for programme staff or regularly visit field projects.
- A good general rule is that all finance staff should spend at least one week visiting field work every year.
2. Encourage programme staff to think about financial issues
- This may not be their first love, so they may need some convincing.
- Running training workshops for them can help. This can require finance staff to build up their training skills - which are very different from technical finance skills.
- It is also important that finance staff spend time discussing financial issues together with programme staff. For instance, it may be useful to hold regular monthly finance meetings for programme staff with a set agenda. You could tailor this meeting agenda to suit your needs.
3. Financial reporting to beneficiaries
- This can be an excellent way of bringing together these different issues. It encourages finance and programme staff to work together, focused on the needs of beneficiaries.
4. Use Mango's integration checklist
- Use Mango's integration checklist as a tool to bring people together
- Encourage finance and programme people to work through the checklist together. This can start a conversation in a non threatening way. They can evaluate themselves and are more likely to think of solutions that they will own.
5. See our Top tips for integrating financial management.
Top tips 9: Integrating financial management