The Evolving CFO: Effectiveness Across a Broad Span of Control

How do you make the most of your expanding corporate influence?

Today’s CFO operates far beyond the traditional “finance first” role over the last decade, or even the last five years. The evolution of the position toward being a holistic and strategic business leader over operational aspects continues apace. From talent management to supply chain to technology assessment and implementation, this is a broad span of control.

If you are leading the CFO office during times of change or crisis—including economic collapse due to a global pandemic—the job becomes more complicated. More importantly, your sphere of influence expands. Challenges and opportunities follow.

How do you make the most impact on an organization? What are the levers of influence, the tools that make you more effective and the strategies for deploying your best people in the most critical positions?

CFO Advisory: A Framework for Effective Performance

One burgeoning trend is for CFOs to look outside the organization for expertise and assistance – not only for executive coaching, but also to create tools and frameworks to deploy in the organization to enhance performance.

We have found some common needs:

  • Budgeting and Resource Allocation: The annual budget on its face is a planning document, but it is also a projection of future growth, a talent allocation strategy, a priority list, and a financial record. The CFO must maintain and develop a responsible budget while balancing internal politics.
  • Dashboards and KPIs: Is your organization operating efficiently and delivering services effectively? How do you know (and relative to what)? Researching best practices, benchmarking operational success and creating key performance indicators can provide new insights to improve your bottom line.
  • People Management: Short-term disruptions often re-arrange personnel assignments and give managers insights into the staff members who are adaptable to change and prepared for larger roles and assignments. But in the longer term, at each level of the organization – all the way up to the CFO’s office – have you identified employees who can be part of your succession plan? In addition, do you have employees with the individual traits and skills necessary for your future success? 
  • Sales and Pricing Models: Knowing the pulse of the market and your customers and in turn, being nimble enough to implement timely changes is critical. As the economic indicators fluctuate you have to watch for a settling point, then determine if your business needs to respond with adjusted sales strategies and pricing models to preserve your market share.
  • Vendor Negotiation: Every business relies on key vendors. Macro-economic cycle depends on it. It is your responsibility to ensure that you are getting the most value from your vendors. As changes are made to how you operate and deliver effectively, these will in turn run downstream to your vendors. The key is that vendor relationships must be mutually beneficial to be effective, if you squeeze too hard the value will disappear.
  • Assessments: Sometimes your organization simply needs a fresh perspective from an outside party. Carefully executed organizational and IT assessments can help you identify breakdowns and facilitate breakthroughs.
  • Solution Roadmaps: Everyone in your organization knows when a technology application is doing more harm than good. But then what? Replacement or upgrade plans can be time-consuming, complicated, and often do not lead to the right solution. Creating a solution and implementation roadmap, outside of the presumed assumptions and cultural biases, can be the difference between contentment and frustration.
  • Data Analytics: Across functions, practical analysis of data can inform good decision-making. For many industries, the “tyranny of data” buries users under thousands of pages that provide no useful information. Mining your current data for what is insightful and essential and then presenting that information in a meaningful format can help a CFO take back control over the arduous process of finding the right information at the right time.
  • Due Diligence/Valuation: In all businesses, there are transactions that require deliberate due diligence and in some cases complex valuations. Having the right knowledge and expertise on your side is essential to effective negotiation.

At Weaver, our CFO Advisory Services practice can create a package of services that can make your day-to-day operations flow more seamlessly, leaving you time for more strategic activities. We would also welcome the opportunity to consult on your thorniest problems and toughest environments, perhaps giving you a fresh perspective and a new path to success. For more information, contact us.

Authored by Alyssa Martin, CPA, and Adam Jones

© 2020

 

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Alyssa Martin

Alyssa Martin

National Strategy Leader, Large Market and Public Entities

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Alyssa Martin, CPA, leads the firm’s national strategy for public company and government practices, focusing on…

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