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3 challenges of CFOs as they strive to deliver greater value

Facing ever-mounting pressure to slash costs, boost revenue, and minimize risk, the role of the CFO is under greater scrutiny than ever before. At the same time, the expectations of CFOs continue to rise. No longer just guardians of the company’s bottom line, today’s finance leaders are being asked to take on a broader, deeper set of strategic responsibilities.

Read Part 1 of this series here.

Experiences and lessons learned from the global pandemic are helping shape the future of finance. Driven by new ways of working and an uncertain economic landscape, finance leaders are shifting from the tactical to the strategic as they prepare for tomorrow’s new “normal.”

Meanwhile, the expectations of CFOs continue to rise as the Office of Finance takes on a broader, deeper set of strategic responsibilities. With that, we present three key challenges that could influence the evolving role of the CFO.

1. The speed of change

Data by its nature, perpetually expands in the digital age. Of course, that’s just one part of the equation. Something needs to then be done with the information make it useful and actionable. As the report states: A key for any company was being able to have “speedy insights at key decision points.”

Yet, that is easier said than done. In a survey of finance leaders, 77% of CFOs admitted that major business decisions have been delayed due to stakeholders not having access to data in a timely manner. The reality is, you have to be ready to pivot quickly and plan and forecast efficiently to keep your company competitive. You want data that you and your people can analyze from multiple angles quickly and easily.

The only to the growing mountain of data and swift changes, is to work in ways that allow you to keep pace with that change. The problem is you are most likely mired in a spreadsheet-based planning environment. With an old-world planning approach, FP&A gets bogged down in logging in figures, checking spreadsheets or navigating legacy systems.  You are always making compromises between trying to offer strategic analysis and simply getting work done on deadline. With cloud planning software, you have a fast, easy and powerful answer to effectively navigate and leverage data, not be crushed by it. You can move toward a continuous planning model—rolling forecasts, what-if scenarios, and more—to get the timely data you need to make smarter, faster business decisions.

2. Your job is changing—dramatically

As a CFO, you know your job has shifted away from pure numbers and towards being more strategic adviser to help the business grow. According to another survey, 90% of CFOs felt the need to do more with data to help upper management make critical decisions.

It doesn’t stop there. Because the scope of the job has changed, there’s the need to now work across departments. You need to get people on board and help them make their own decisions. What’s essential is a common language and more meaningful collaboration.

So, the expectations have grown. To meet them requires a new approach that moves away from finance being order-takers and becoming more strategic partners. To do that requires moving to cloud-based technology solutions that can consolidate data into a single source of truth for your organization, and allow you and your team to generate deep insights.

Of particular value is the capability to quickly do scenario planning that allows you to assess the impact of changing market conditions or make strategic decisions that help drive the business. You and your team can start collaborating more and more effectively with business leaders across the organization. The bottom line—you can be proactive instead of always being in reactive mode. That’s not only good for your business, but also your career.

3. You can’t attract top talent

One survey reported that 71% of the 21- to 37-year-old generation are either not engaged or are actively disengaged at work. That makes them the least engaged generation in the workplace.

But here’s the good part. Since they’re willing to leave a company, you can recruit them. And what they’ll jump for, the thing they want the most, is the chance to learn and grow. They care about that more than having an office that’s fun, a workplace that’s informal, even more than how much they’re paid.

Creating a modern planning environment is, again, is a key ingredient if you want to win the talent war. It assures that your team isn’t bogged down in spreadsheets or at the mercy of IT. Instead, you can focus on deeper analytics that help drive business results and include business partners companywide in the planning process (called xP&A, or extended planning and analysis). In turn, that will keep your team engaged and challenged. That helps boost retention.

Not only that, but it also aids in recruiting the best talent. When job seekers learn that they will be able to use their skills and talents, and grow professionally, you start developing a reputation as a prime destination for  talent. People will want to join your team. And once they are on board, they will want to stay.

No doubt, there will always be worries and challenges if you sit in the CFO seat. But moving to an modern FP&A planning software can make those worries far more manageable.

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