Remember that old Bob Dylan song from the Sixties? “Oh the times they are a-changing”? The song has rarely been truer than now as technology reshapes traditional roles into new ones.
For example as evolving technology outpaces traditional static reporting, real value is being realized by using real-time and predictive analysis to assist finance professionals in making quick, fact-based decisions.
Sound investment and selection of the right enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution is a game changer for this new brand of strategic CFO, providing that person with a powerful way to gain quicker insights that drive both the company’s growth and bottom-line strategy.
Finance will be integral to decision making – working even closer with wider teams in the business. The changing role and key attributes of the strategic CFO include:
- The Deliverer of Financial Insights Tied to Corporate Vision – Whereas the CEO has the top responsibility for the business vision and culture, it is the role of the CFO to identify and recognize key actions and the financial ramifications that can help to make that vision a reality. Gone are the days when CFOs simply reported past financial performance and predicted the next quarter based on someone else’s data.
- Support for Boardroom-Level Decision Making – For years, siloed data has prevented management teams and boards from being able to act as quickly as they would like in areas such as expansion plans, mergers/acquisitions, resource adjustments, plant consolidations, etc. By ensuring that the ERP choice can quickly consolidate and deliver this information, the CFO increases their value exponentially to Boards.
- The Analyzer of the Long Term Impacts of IT/ERP Choices – Too often, ERP vendors push their solutions from self-serving premises. A great example here would be on technologies that limit choice/customization, deployment options, provide limited integration capabilities and/or require extensive training or fat maintenance contracts. Informed, strategic CFOs make it their business to ask the “what if” questions that can have major top and bottom-line impact financially, and in turn this consideration would require agility from their ERP solution.
- Compliance Gatekeeper – Perhaps the greatest unknown to today’s modern strategic CFO is what regulatory/accounting/tax mandates could totally shift the company’s business model. Insisting that flexibility is a relatively low-cost component of any new ERP solution being evaluated may make the difference between a company that is in business today or one that is out of business following a major legal change.
Above all, the strategic CFO’s role in manufacturing and distribution organizations is to help their organizations find IT solutions with capabilities that save time, money, resources, and that scale cost-effectively. The CFO‘s role will continue to evolve in this digital age and have a dramatic impact on the ERP solution selected by business owners moving forward.