As well as Excel training, I do part time interim finance cover.
I recently covered a Head of Finance role on a part-time basis (2-4 days a month).
Due to unexpected circumstances, I ended up starting a little earlier than planned and with no handover. This wasn’t the intention and it obviously meant a bit more time with other people in the organisation to try to work out what needed doing.
The particular challenge was working out what needed to be done at quarter end. Everyone knew that the HoF did various things to the numbers ahead of producing accounts, but no-one knew the full list.
However, I was pleasantly surprised by how quickly I could pick it up. It helped that the person I was covering was well organised and consistent, so I was able to work out what a typical period close might look like by trawling through the accounting system. Once I could see the types of journals that were posted, I could then look for supporting evidence on the company Sharepoint.
Obviously I also brought a couple of decades of experience to the role too – it helps when you really know what you are looking at. I can also bring newer data cleansing techniques, such as Power Query, to quickly identify where there may be entries missing.
Furthermore, as an experienced interim finance director, used to working in emergency situations, I can make judgement calls about what is important and what could be left. For example, it probably isn’t going to make a difference to the business or its decision-making if the prepayments don’t get unwound that month.
And finally, when I put the numbers together against the budget, reviewing these together with operational staff highlighted fairly quickly where there might be further issues to investigate.
While I’d always rather have a handover if it’s possible, this experience showed me what can be done even without one.