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    ‘The Three C’s’ Of Success For Managing Remote Production Accounting Teams

    With the advancement of remote work, much has changed for production accounting teams. What hasn’t changed are the principles which made those cramped, and weirdly cozy, bullpens so productive.

    Those principles can be summed up as The Three C's: Communication, Collaboration, and Coordination

    To run an efficient production accounting department either in-person, remote, or hybrid, you need The Three C’s. 


    But how you successfully incorporate each is going to vary depending on if a team is in-person or remote / hybrid.


    With over 20 years of production accounting experience with industry-leading content creators from studios to streamers, including Netflix, HBO (now Max), and ABC, and most recently A24, I can tell you that for many, the accounting bullpen is only part of the story instead of the full picture. 


    So let’s dive into each aspect of Communication, Collaboration, and Coordination to unearth exactly how each should be used as guiding principles for any production accounting team with a remote-work component.


    ✅ Communication


    Before remote work became a reality, every morning my accountant and I met in my office to discuss priorities for the day. That information was disseminated to the entire team. 


    We all knew what we needed to accomplish. 


    When priorities changed, it was easy to pop into the bullpen and discuss a new action plan. 


    That simple convenience has been taken for granted. 


    Remote or hybrid work demands we clearly communicate expectations, roles, and goals. 


    In fact, according to the founder and CEO of TakingPoint Leadership, former Navy SEAL, and two-time best-selling author Brent Gleeson, we should over-communicate. 


    Gleeson lists the most common challenges experienced in remote work as lack of face-to-face supervision, access to information, and social isolation. So it is important to check in often, offer acknowledgement for productivity, or lend an ear to a team member who may be struggling. 


    It was important during the pandemic, and it remains important today.


    Empower your team and reinforce the concept that asking for help is not a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of strength.


    Accounting teams extend to other departments as well. Schedule communication sessions often with department heads and make sure they know how to reach out to the accounting department when necessary.


    ✅ Collaboration


    All too often a simple pivot can easily disrupt a remote team.


    Strive to get everybody’s hand on the ball and know their role as well as the roles of the other team members. Connect daily work to the bigger picture. 


    If you get everyone involved and invested in success, you’re going to be much less likely to face unnecessary disruptions. 


    But there’s still a major hurdle to overcome…


    The feeling of isolation. 


    It can, and does, develop within remote teams and it can be crippling. 


    Everyone has multiple tasks to complete, many of which are interconnected. 


    Since working remotely can limit the feeling of interconnectivity, production accounting leaders have to address it head on. The key is to make sure each team member feels integral to the success of the team as a whole, regardless of seniority level.


    The bullpen aided in this communication on multiple levels, but you’ve got to work for it a little more with remote teams.


    Here are a few ways I’ve found worked well to build camaraderie in a remote / hybrid work environment:

    Host an online game night

    We should create remote team-building activities to socialize. Encourage your team to come up with ideas. During the early days of remote work, my team met for game night.  There are quite a few online games out there. 

    Get a ‘Digital Break Room’ 

    Something like Hallway. Basically, you want to ensure your team is taking some time for them.


    The thing about remote work these days is that now we’ve all been doing it for a while because of that nasty pandemic, we know that people don’t just generally slack off because they’re at home. Quite the opposite. 


    I’ve noticed a tendency for remote workers to overwork.


    If remote workers were mostly slacking off, many companies wouldn’t still be fully remote. 

    Transition your bullpen ‘fun thing’ to online

    My last team’s “thing” was planking. Don’t judge. It was fun. So, we took our office “plank time” digital. 


    Every day at 2pm we all took a break to plank. We included other departments in the office, and occasionally they joined in virtually as well. 


    ✅ Coordination

    Accounting is all about logistics. Knowing what is where, and when it is required is one crucial key to success. 


    In the days of the colored routing folders, we had a system in place. We could easily see where the holdup in approvals was, and who we needed to prod along to get that check cut.


    The digital analog to folders is very different. A folder in your email inbox is the same size whether it is full or empty, and accounting emails can get overlooked in the deluge of production email. 


    You have to work with the understanding that not everybody in this accounting industry is going to be technically adept, right away. Even in a primarily digital-first world.


    Any true transition takes time and education. Some on your team will hit the ground running while others will require more upskilling and training. 


    This is why shared ownership is important. 


    Shared ownership can mitigate some of the technical skill gaps that may exist. 


    Put each team member in charge of a routine task or department so you know who to call on. Entrust each department with coordinating with accounting. 


    Shared ownership keeps the wheels in motion and allows you to train up those who might need it. 


    Also, coordinate with your producers. 


    Make sure they are aware of what the priority is and set up an approval schedule with them. Let them know the importance of routine attention to approving paperwork and be vocal when they are falling behind. Just be graceful about it.


    Tying the Three C’s together

    I’m going to go ahead and assume you’re already familiar with all of the essential remote work tools because many of them have become essential to even in-person work now. 


    But for accounting teams, in-person or remote, I’d be remiss to leave out GreenSlate. It executes the Three C’s perfectly.  


    If you’ve heard the phrase, “I liked the product so much I bought the company,” that applies to me. I didn’t buy GreenSlate, but after using it I loved the product so much that I joined the company. 


    GreenSlate, being an all-in-one production accounting app with fully customizable approval flows, allows your team to know where everything is. That, for me, was always huge. Being able to instantly ping the next approver to let them know they should take action was an arrow in my accounting workflow sling. 


    I'd be depressed if I ever had to give up that functionality. 


    The fact that GreenSlate enables departments to enter PO’s, invoices, check requests, and petty cash / p-cards directly into the system and easily attach backup was a revelation for me. They can even pre-code the items for accounting to review and edit if necessary. The department head approvers can also easily see where each item is in the approval flow.


    In a digital-first and remote / hybrid world, the ability to “approve on the go” as it were, is a collaboration must-have. Producers can approve from any mobile device while on set, and they can even digitally sign checks or approve ACH payments remotely.


    The entire crew can submit timecards, download check copies, and manage direct deposit information directly through GreenSlate.


    Any team using GreenSlate gives themselves a leg up and a step forward towards running a more communicative, collaborative, and coordinated production accounting team, regardless of if they’re in-person or remote. 


    I'd love to show you how to succeed by applying the Three C’s with GreenSlate. Drop me an email or DM on LinkedIn any time, or schedule a demo.

    Brett Gantt

    Brett Gantt is Senior Vice President, Head of Accountant Relations at GreenSlate. Gantt has over 20 years of production accounting experience with industry-leading content creators from studios to streamers, including Netflix, HBO (now Max), and ABC, and most recently independent powerhouse A24.

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