The rapid pace of business change today doesn’t affect only product development and marketing – it also affects finance departments. Effective collaboration can be especially useful for finance departments that need to execute change quickly and effectively.

CDW’s own finance department offers a great case in point. The department recently undertook an extensive re-engineering process to improve efficiency, more closely align with evolving corporate strategy and better ensure regulatory compliance. This re-engineering called for fairly significant changes to the department’s core applications and procedures. 

Collaboration played a central role in all three phases of the project:

Development and Quality Assurance

In the first phase, CDW’s finance team worked closely with developers to clarify requirements and to provide feedback on development deliverables as they became available.

Some of the meetings between finance and development were done in person. But given the frequency of contact needed for true agile development, it made sense to have finance and development interact using collaboration tools such as instant messaging and web conferencing.

“You can’t expect developers to understand and appreciate all the nuances of accounting to the same degree as those of us who have made finance our careers,” observes Nikki Davis, a senior financial analyst for CDW. “By using collaboration tools, we were able to give our developers the quick, frequent feedback they needed to keep the project on track and on time.”


Once the new applications went into production, finance had to pivot its attention to business administrators in other CDW departments. “We needed to do a lot of training so that everyone understood how to use the new system to submit their expenses,” Davis explains. “In fact, the success of the project really depended on getting everyone in our various departments onboard quickly and with minimal disruption to the business.”

Here again, collaboration was invaluable. Davis and her team were able to host internal webinars that got everyone up to speed on both the mechanics of the new system and the reasons for the changeover. They were also able to circulate and post documents addressing some of the most frequently asked questions about the new system.

“By communicating the ‘why’ as well as the ‘what’ of the change, we were better able to promote broad user acceptance,” says Davis.

Ongoing Support

While the initial UC-based training proved to be very effective, there are still occasions when users have questions about finance’s various apps and procedures. According to Davis, the combination of presence, IM and screen sharing collaboration tools provides an ideal means for answering those questions quickly and easily.

“We’re not always in a position to take someone’s phone call immediately, and it can be difficult to determine which emails in your inbox are genuinely urgent. Having collaboration tools at our fingertips lets us zero in on truly urgent problems and get them solved in real time, so people can complete their tasks and not lose any work they have in progress.”

Check out CDW’s collection of data sheets, case studies and articles for more information on how you can leverage collaboration tools in your business.