Can technology help a Chief Financial Officer (CFO) stay ahead? Like so many questions in business today, the answer starts with, “Yes, but…” Yes, of course technology can help the CFO, and it already does. But, what can tech do to put the CFO on a course to achieving more in the role? Figuring this out means knowing a bit about how the CFO role actually works and then looking at the way tech can give the financial chief an extra boost.
First, Understanding the CFO Role
Most people have an intuitive sense of the CFO’s job. It’s right there in the title, “financial officer.” He/she’s the money guy/gal. But, what does that actually mean? To see how technology can help the CFO, it’s first necessary to know what they actually do on a day-to-day basis.
The CFO has the duty of controllership. Whether he or she is actually the controller (someone else may have this specific title and role), the CFO is responsible for controllership. This includes presenting and reporting accurate financial statements and related reports. A lot of important eyes are on these income statements, balance sheets, statements of cash flows and so forth. Shareholders, stock market analysts, creditors, employees and many other stakeholders must base their decisions on them.
Treasury duties are also part of the CFO’s portfolio. He or she is responsible for the financial condition of the company. The CFO is tasked with investing the company’s money, with considerations of risk, return and liquidity. As part of this role, the CFO sets the capital structure of the company by balancing a mix of financing that comprises debt, equity and internal sources of funds.
A CFO has a role to play in a company’s financial future. This involves identifying and reporting on areas of the business that are most profitable and have the best potential to be profitable in the future. Getting this right means doing economic forecasting and modeling. It’s usually a scenario building process.
Three Ways CFOs Can Leverage Technology in their Jobs
To make a difference to the CFO, technology has to go beyond the basics. Accurate reporting and good financial controls by means of software are a given. Where can tech advance the CFO’s agenda and, perhaps even further his or her career? Here are three ways CFOs can leverage technology to improve their work lives:
- Streamlining financial operations – Accounting and Finance are operational departments that cost money to run. Innovative technology can help these departments work more productively. This might mean getting more work done with fewer people or enabling the staff to do more with their time. For example, financial management software that simplifies transaction workflows can contribute to greater departmental productivity.
- Analyzing financial data—Management and analysis of financial data are key success factors in controllership, treasury and financial planning. All of these duties rely on having accurate, timely data. Doing these jobs better than before requires having insights into financial and economic data. Technology can make this happen, with data analytics tools and intuitive, flexible business intelligence dashboards.
- Communicating with key decision makers—From analysis, comes reports. With good reporting tools, the CFO can arrange and present data in ways that drive meaningful conversations bout the direction of the business and critical decisions.
Used the right way, technology can propel the CFO into a more significant role in running the business. It’s about improving financial operations and making the best possible use of business data to make the right financial decisions.