Problem Solving Skills For Accountants

Business is full of problems that need solving. As a technically proficient accountant you understand many technical solutions to finance problems and issues. You know what complies with the rules, what is possible and what is not. However there comes a time when you are faced with problems that aren’t well-formed, where there is no right answer and the issues span multiple disciplines and departments.

Developing problem-solving skills will set you apart from your colleagues, be a vital resource for developing the finance function and you’ll become a valued partner to other non-financial managers as you can propose solutions that work for you and work within the financial constraints that you understand well.

Understanding business problems

The first step is to understand the problem thoroughly. To examine it from every relevant angle and understand it in context. This means understanding the business, what is important and what would be right for the business – not just finance.

Lateral thinking

Solving a business problem often requires lateral thinking – coming at things from a new perspective. With your financial and analytical mind you can bring a valuable perspective that your colleagues may lack. If you are able to develop lateral thinking skills and use this alongside your technical and analytical approach, you can make a significant contribution to the debate.

Creative ideas

Accountants aren’t always noted for their creative thinking. Being able to suspend judgement and think creatively and imaginatively can give you an edge, enabling you to bring something unique and different to the discussion. Learning to think creatively can not only be liberating and fun but can produce some new insights and innovations that can make everyone’s lives more productive and set you apart from your colleagues.

Proposing solutions

Having great ideas is one thing, but arguing the case for them and presenting your proposed solutions to your colleagues and decision-makers is another. Being able to see – and sell – the benefits of a solution requires an insight into the business, your colleagues and the office politics that inevitably exist.

How are you developing your problem solving skills?

Do you have sufficient understanding of the business to propose solutions that will be accepted?

How adept are you at persuading others of the merits of your solution?