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How the CFO's role is now more than just the financial gate-keeper

The new role of the CFO in connecting the whole organisation together to improve effectiveness
finance person looking at graphs on a table
| Robert Hobbs | Performance

The role of the modern Chief Finance Officer entails much more than being a budget gate-keeper, ensuring a financial system of record is accurate and statutory reporting is delivered.

CFO’s are the business planner with vision and growth enablement responsibilities, trusted by the CEO and the rest of the senior management team to get the financial budgeting, planning and fiscal management right to underpin the rapidly shifting needs of the organisation and enable ambitions to be achieved.

Often the confidant and sounding board for the CEO on major investments, financial viability of transformations, mergers, consolidations or restructurings, the CFO needs to have connection with both the vision and strategy, and the operational reality to continually balance the ambitious with the attainable. CFO’s turn strategy into tactical possibility.

Digital systems have long since automated the financial record keeping with a vast selection of ledgers, receivables, payables, payroll, cash management, procurement and statutory reporting systems available and in place. Teams of trained financial and IT staff support the finance office in ensuring that customers are invoiced, payments collected, suppliers paid, the lights stay on, staff salaries and taxes are correctly paid, budgets are tracked and variances and projections reported.

However, the successful Chief Finance Officer today is more than just a flawless bean-counter.

They are also the sponsor and driver of a more effective organisation, as well as a more cost efficient one. They are at the heart of evolving the organisation’s behaviour.

Finance has always connected with every team in the business; with budget planning and reporting, investment, salaries and growth expenditure approval. Today that role expands to connecting the non-financial performance with the financial performance management.

Bringing together the strategic KPI with customer success metrics, service and operational performance, process efficiency delivery, programme delivery, statutory and governance compliance, quality and milestone achievement as well as financial results.

Connecting projects resources allocation and expenditure with the financial and quality benefits and information on the progress on ambitions and outcome performance improvements.

Connecting aims and operational business plan goals with risk assessment and mitigations to strike the right balance between ambition and assured corporate governance and responsibility.

The most successful CFOs are enabling the engagement of all staff, leveraging the organisation’s greatest under-utilised asset and connecting them with financial awareness and impact transparency.

They are enabling team managers and individual contributors to appreciate more clearly and almost in real-time the impact of their actions, decisions and performance on the achievement of organisational ambition and impact within financial constraints.

Today, a Connected Decision Experience platform from INPHASE streamlines the management process, eliminating the wasted effort of overcoming reporting friction by providing one integrated platform.

We look to streamline operations, especially those that are deemed back-office. The greatest of these is the whole management of the organisation. The CFO is intimately involved. Every successful organisation has a process of managing that articulates and internally and externally shares its purpose, goals and ambitions. These goals must include the intellectual contribution of the CFO in financial achievability and structure, allocation and cascade, contingency and governance.

From visioning ambition the CFO co-ordinates the planning cascade, connecting every part of the organisation, aligning team delivery goals with the vision and connecting the ambition with the finance to enable them.

The best-informed CFOs know the operational realities at lightning speed, know the financial and non-financial roll-up impacts almost immediately and can predict the most likely monthly and fiscal year outcomes in a flash.

Truly enabling CFOs enable the whole of the organisation to connect and align their everyday efforts, actions and decisions to maximise succeeding financially and achieving quality, operational, staff, customer and shareholder ambitions.

To help the CFO do this, we provide real-time information solutions. Reporting across all operational achievements, customer demand, process performance and outcomes effectiveness achieved combined with customer feedback, financial budgets tracking and trajectories, visually connecting drivers and outcomes for the actions and performance of every member of staff.

And here is where the best CFOs are focussed today, delivering such a vast array of data, tracking every performance, enabling managers and individuals with the visibility to understand and collaborate on what is the next best action they should take for the organisation’s overall best outcomes.

For most, this has previously been achieved only through an army of staff with a plethora of Excel spreadsheets, financial reports, operational data, meeting notes, reports, proposals, recommendations, minutes, action lists, emails, project plans, risk registers, governance committees meetings, scheduled reviews, quarterly reports, daily quality checks, and more, all adding up to a massive cost.

This enormous cost has been justified. Without this data driven environment the organisation could not well-manage its £100ms of incomes, expenditures, teams, projects, programmes, risks, board reports, committee repots, management reports, team reports, board actions, team actions, operational analysis, what-if, predictive forecasts or discussions and decision collaboration.

Hundreds of reporting elements, thousands of hours, enable the delivery of the essential visibility.

But with so much work, mistakes happen and sometimes information is reported inaccurately, sometimes much delayed, sometimes lost or ignored. More resource is needed to audit, reconcile, and correct information, approve and sign off as authentic, data governance and assurance is paramount.

Using this approach of hundreds of disparate systems and sources of information, of emails and minutes and separate reports saps the organisations time and resources.

Staff are collating, co-ordinating and producing each step in the management of the organisation. In this environment, to achieve the process of managing the CFO must muster and inspire, (we’ve even seen, bully) the organisation to make every one of these reporting and managing steps work, at each junction between different system there is work needed. From emailing a request to adding it to a to do list, from creating a spreadsheet or analysing data visualisations, to producing it as a report or slide deck of progress to generating weekly review monthly reports and submissions, to supporting decision-making meetings, there is manual interaction and work to overcome the friction between these different elements for each step.

This friction between so many steps expends organisational energy.

Eliminating as much of that friction as possible frees up staff time to work on the operational business of the organisation, to improve products, increase customer satisfaction, improve health outcomes, build better bridges, look after the elderly, create more shareholder value and any other ambition the organisation pursues. The INPHASE platform eliminates that waste of resource by eliminating the process friction.

Seamlessly in a single platform INPHASE connects statements of ambition and goals, with budgets, targets and tracking and reporting progress and predicting results trajectory. Connecting customer feedback data with financial and delivery metrics. Making risk and mitigation integral to every team manager. Enabling social media style collaborative discussion and action setting seamlessly linked to both the business ambition and the operational data reality.

Today, we are helping the best CFOs deliver the best cultural change in a generation. Shifting the paradigm from flawless transaction recording and reporting to enabling transparency, aligning every team and individual with the business purpose, tracking actions and delivery to make the connected plan-do-check-act of management best practise a single front-end system that connects everyone, everyday.

Robert Hobbs

Chief Executive Officer

InPhase’s Chief Executive and Founder, Robert has been the visionary leading InPhase to be one of the UK's leading providers of management, governance and assurance solutions, and helping organisations align their actions and goals more easily and efficiently with InPhase's suite of integrated apps.

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