In making their selection, the judges were mindful of the objective of choosing the finance team that displayed exceptional financial leadership in the year 2018. Certainly not the largest charity in the short-list (Merchants Quay Ireland probably has one of the smallest finance teams in fact) MQI were really clear in their application form about two very specific new innovations their finance team delivered for the finance function and for the organisation in 2018: 1) the reintroduction of in-house payroll after many years of out-sourcing; and 2) the roll out of a purchase order system across the organisation. In larger charities, these may be simply part of normal work, but the judges appreciated that these were two significant change processes for MQI. Each required leadership by the finance team to secure buy-in across the whole organisation and quite complex project management, stakeholder management and change management – all linked to the effective workings of a finance function. The form clearly outlined the risks, the learnings and the impact.
The two projects delivered in 2018 have led to more speedy, efficient and detailed reporting in relation to staffing and purchasing across the organisation which is paramount for planning and cost control. One of the side benefits from the successful delivery of these two projects in 2018 was the fact that it enabled a new data analytics approach by the finance team, which involved production of graphical dashboards for each service on a monthly basis representing the financial position of the organisation from various angles. Consequently, the ability of the organisation and the board to make sound financial decisions was measurably enhanced.