Beginning a New Accounting Leadership Role
The Future of Work

30-60-90 Day Roadmap: Beginning a New Accounting Leadership Role

About the Author: As FloQast’s reigning Controller of the Year, Ashley Griesshammer has helped e-commerce company Lovevery’s accounting team scale as the company has experienced explosive growth. In her time with the company, she has helped improve processes and formalized the accounting function at Lovevery as the organization continues to scale. 

Recently, Ashley joined Blood, Sweat & Balance Sheets to discuss her transition from finance to accounting, her steps to improve processes and empower employees, and her outlook on the accounting profession as we enter a new year with a lot of unknown. Check out the full episode.

Starting a new job can feel daunting – new systems to learn, new people to meet, and different vendors to work with. Starting a new leadership role comes with its own challenges – learning new team dynamics and developing a rapport with your new reports, and creating and championing the strategy for your team, all with high expectations on you from day one. Creating a comprehensive 30-60-90 day plan for your new role can provide critical direction to your staff and executive leadership in your new company, and can help lay out the roadmap for your role far beyond your first year of employment.

While the information you learn in your first few weeks on the job will shape your near-term goals, nothing is ever static in business, and you’ll need to remain flexible and adaptable as business goals and priorities shift. Below are the critical areas to focus on during your first few months, and over a coming series of blog posts, we’ll dive into each of these in more detail to provide tactical direction on tackling these challenges.

Within the First 30 Days

Meet with executive leadership

This is the most crucial activity to find your footing within a new company and leadership team. Meeting with your CEO or President is imperative in your first week, and you may need to set up this meeting proactively. Understanding what their vision and goals for the company are will directly impact how you choose to build your team and have an impact on your role. Future goals like acquisitions, an IPO, or even just growth in sales will affect the choices you make in the following weeks around staff, systems, and processes.

Get to know your team

This is a friendly time to ask questions and get to know your team members! How long have they been with the company? What are their favorite things and least favorite things about their job? If some of your team members have been with the company for a longer tenure, they will have excellent institutional knowledge to draw from as you continue evaluating your new role – they might have crucial insight as to why a system was originally set up the way it was or why a certain decision was made. Learn about their backgrounds, strengths, and their personal goals for themselves over the next year or two. This is a perfect opportunity to build positive rapport from day one. 

Understand your budget

Understand from your boss (who may be the CEO) what exactly your budget looks like. Does the company have and actively use department budgets? If you need to make a purchase or use a consultant, gain clarity on what their process expectations are. If you’re within budget, they might not wish to be notified – others will always want to sign off on any expense you incur for your team. 

Review the financial statements

Now is the perfect time to ask questions! Review expense lines and see what vendors your new company is working with. Understand what assets your company holds. Consider how they are funded using equity or debt. This is a prime opportunity to set up one-on-ones with other department managers to get to know them, understand what their team is doing, what their budget looks like, and ask questions. You can use your prior experience if you’re coming from a similar industry and know where margins and expense ratios should be, or you can look at industry comps online to understand what areas might need improvement.

This seems like an incredibly busy first month because it will be! Though many of these initial steps are conversational, and you aren’t into the meat and potatoes of your accounting world yet, these are critical steps to understanding the lay of the land as you move forward. The coming months will really start to dive deep into the details.

Within 60 Days

System mapping

Meeting with your executive team was the most critical activity in your first 30 days, and THIS is the most critical activity in your next 30 days. Understanding how all of the systems used in your organization are connected is crucial for understanding how data flows. That data will eventually land in your financial statements (whether it’s sales, COGS, or other expenses), and understanding where it comes from is imperative to ensure the integrity of your financial statements. I recommend mapping out these flows using what you’ve learned in the first 30 days and then following up with your IT team, your sales team, and other related parties to ensure you have a solid understanding. This map will also serve as a foundation for any controls you might want to implement in the future. 

Evaluate outsourced service providers

With your initial review of the financial statements, you saw the vendors and service providers your team and organization already use. Now might be the time to review and renew things like software contracts or other outdated service agreements. While you should collaborate cross-functionally with other departments in reviewing their vendors, think about who your own team is using. Consider if the audit or accounting firm you currently use will meet the needs and requirements of your business over the next few years. If your CEO wants to take the business internationally, do they have the resources to support that? If you are considering a debt or equity raise in the future, are the standards they are auditing to what potential investors will want to see? Early in your tenure can be an ideal time to make a change and allow you to grow the relationship you want with a new audit or accounting firm. 

Within 90 Days

Control documentation

It’s very likely your team already has some controls in place. Work with them to document what processes they are already completing, and put together a current state “control handbook.” Use this written Statement of Processes to understand what the team is doing, and look for gaps that need to be filled, whether that’s increasing segregation of duties, adding additional reconciliations, or other control enhancements. Having a documented starting point will show you where improvements over the next year need to take place. 

Evaluate the Close and reporting cadence

By now, you will have been through two monthly Closes and perhaps a quarterly Close (or will be preparing for one). You will have seen the areas that take the team the longest and what the pain points for an efficient close are. You should understand reporting expectations, from your FP&A team, to your executive team, or to your lenders and other stakeholders. Now is a great time to develop a close and reporting calendar so every team member knows the business rhythm. This is also the time to start thinking about the highest priority issues you want to tackle in your close, whether it’s reconciliation efficiency, reducing post-close adjustments, or another area. 

You’ve now spent the last quarter building cross-functional relationships, gaining an understanding of the business, and developing rapport with your team – you should be well-poised as a leader in your company to begin to implement effective change to drive forward the goals of the business. 

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