A great opportunity for positive change.
I recently ran across a blog entry on the www.proformative.com web site, titled “The Accidental CFO” and authored by Samuel Dergel, Director – Executive Search at Stanton Chase International, accessed with a free membership to proformative.com, which is an excellent online resource and professional network for senior finance, accounting and related professionals.
In this article, the author discusses the seldom but possible scenario when an accounting or finance executive is promoted to the CFO position “accidentally”, or unexpectedly for various reasons. The author then continues and gives several tips to the newly promoted CFO, as well as a little advice on how to grow into the role and develop relationships with senior executives and the outside world.
In my career in accounting and finance I was once “accidentally” promoted to the CFO role in a hi-tech company when the newly hired CFO decided after less than 6 months that the company was “too small” for him and that he missed the larger corporate environment.
I remember the quick transition period and having to come up with answers and solutions where there was no one to ask. I also remember that for the first time I realized that I was in a perfect position to make good, positive changes and get the executive team to work more closely together on common company goals.
One area that presents a great opportunity for a new CFO, “accidental” or not, is the area of planning, budgeting, and business intelligence. In recent years, companies of all sizes have been able to make use of outstanding planning, forecasting, reporting and business performance management (BPM) / business intelligence (BI) tools. You no longer have to be the CFO of a fortune 500 enterprise to be able to harness all the power that your corporate ERP system and all other peripheral information systems can provide.
A forward looking CFO will always look for ways to not only improve relationships with senior executives and key employees, as well as key persons on the outside world (bankers, investors, key customers, key vendors, etc.), but to also improve the way the company translates its goals and visions into actual performance and the ability to monitor this performance and make the necessary adjustments in order to better align the actual performance with the anticipated results.
Today’s CFO, more than ever before, can have the tools designed to do just that. Using a list of “must have” general features I recommended in the blog entry “10 Must Have Features of a Budgeting & Business Intelligence Solution” , they can implement a planning and BPM/BI solution that will become the best trusted and used financial tool the organization can rely on.
The CFO will work with the organization’s operational departments to have these tools implemented and put to use. They will also closely work with finance to ensure that all data is correctly captured in the system and is routinely analyzed.
Whether you are a veteran CFO, a newly appointed one or “accidentally” promoted to this role, you have a tremendous opportunity to add value to your organization, value that can be measured and that will be appreciated by everyone involved. As an added bonus, and amidst the sometimes-elevated stress that is part of this job, you will find great satisfaction in realizing that harnessing the power of current information technology is a major contributor to your organization’s success.