The Connected CFO
'We want to make organisations future-proof by optimising how finance positions are set up. In order to do that, we look at the use of technology, the streamlining of processes and the placement of people with the right competences in the right place.'
Diederick Gallas | Senior Manager Finance & Technology
When people hear the term 'Connected CFO', they first think of automation and the use of technology. 'With good reason,' says Diederick Gallas, Senior Manager Finance & Technology, 'but in order to be truly connected, the connection with all layers of the organisation is just as important.'
A future-oriented CFO is much more of a "people manager" than her or his predecessor. The traditional CFO plays an important role in the provision of information on financial steering. But in view of the growing volume and diversity of non-financial data, the CFO is faced with the challenge of establishing a link with the financial data.
This also makes the Connected CFO the perfect person to build bridges to other departments. My message to all CFOs is: don't keep that valuable business information to yourself!
Everyone is talking about it: the use of Business Intelligence (BI) to convert large amounts of data into usable information. It is accessible at all levels of the organisation. As a result of these developments, finance professionals are given a much broader role than in the past. The Connected CFO has become a team player who looks to the future, works together with the business and contributes to the strategic goals of an organisation.
A "libero" who helps the various departments to make data-driven decisions, to measure and improve their own performance. A lot of organisations have purchased a BI tool, software that is used to set up a dashboard on which you can follow all relevant management information at a glance in real time. It is, so to speak, a shell over all data and information sources.
The most important question, however, is: what do you want to be able to see on it? In addition to financial KPIs, this can also include non-financial KPIs, such as information from the HR system and production planning. But also information about sustainability within the framework of the EU regulations on ESG or marketing information, in order to gain a better insight into the effects of certain actions on turnover. You want to make sure that everyone always has access to relevant management information'.
Live dashboard of the BI tool
'The selection of KPIs for such a dashboard must be carried out together with the broader management, preferably with an experienced external party to oversee this, so that everyone is on the same page. It is also vitally important during implementation to stop consulting old information sources and static reports. The great advantage of a live dashboard in a BI tool is that everyone within the organisation works with the same information. At first, this change is often met with resistance because the familiar ways of working have to be replaced with something new and unfamiliar. But if a new way of working is adopted among users of the dashboards, then gains in efficiency can be quickly made. This calls for the right communication skills from the team that is tasked with the implementation.´
´As a result, the CFO is taking on an increasingly central role in the organisation. This means that she or he must also be well-versed in storytelling: as in, able to make clear to everyone in the organisation what your financial story means for their work and vice versa. And determine together, in the interest of the company strategy, what you want to aim for together.´
RECALIBRATING STEERING INSTRUMENTS
We saw one example of the new role of the CFO during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many companies were forced to add an online channel simply to survive. In this kind of situation, the Connected CFO plays an important role for a sales department, because she or he is able to link the relevant information to the overall financial picture. This enables us to quickly determine whether the organisation should consider a particular investment or whether it would be better to look at alternatives.'
'The creation of a BI dashboard obviously requires the necessary effort and maintenance. Changing (market) conditions, for example, call for adjusted steering information and KPIs. You should therefore periodically reassess your steering instruments (and be sure not to underestimate this process). For instance, you could expand the standard financial dashboard with a situational dashboard that is more focused on the current situation or on the needs of the organisation. Boer & Croon has extensive experience with this. Would you like to discuss this further? Call or email me for an appointment, and we will see what we can do for you.