You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression. And if you’re like most CFO’s, you’re only going to be with the same company for about five years. Which means you don’t have time to waste when you’re starting with a new company.
The good news is you are walking in with a clean slate to open minds optimistic that your addition will make a positive difference within the organization.
Now that the world is your oyster, let’s lay the framework for the Top 6 Tips To Success in your new CFO role:
It’s important to get to know your entire finance team. And quickly. Understand their priorities. Ask plenty of questions to get their feedback and insight. Listen intently. And often. Explain your vision, management style and team expectations. Don’t be hardcore and don’t make any drastic changes in your team until after your first 90 days. Keep an open-door policy and model the behavior and actions you expect from your team.
Your integrity as a new CFO is of paramount importance. If you suspect any issues with numbers being reported, you should initiate an audit immediately. If you find any discrepancies, notify the CEO and Board right away. Your credibility is on the line.
While you shouldn’t be afraid to make changes in the organization, don’t jump too quickly without understanding the full impact of those changes. Get a sense of the company’s culture, capacity and openness to change first. Identify three top priorities and then get input from all perspectives – your finance team and your other C-level executives and Board. For additional insight into how today’s CFO’s are expected to lead substantive change for their companies, check out this article from cfo.com.
Cash is King, and the flow of cash is your most important function as a CFO. You must have visibility into the right Key Performance Indicators within your company. You need a clear picture of where the company has been, where it is now, and where you want it to go. You can’t do this without having financial dashboards in place to see those important metrics. The better information you have, the better decisions you can make. For a deeper dive, see “How Dashboards Can Help You Predict The Future & What You Need To Know First”.
You need the ability to capture, structure and make better use of your data. Identifying and managing the company’s most critical information is a task that your finance department has to own. Your team must be a well-oiled machine. That means their time and abilities should be maximized to best support your role as the financial leader of the company. They can’t be forced to rely on IT to create necessary reports. They can’t continue with highly manual processes or reporting limited to spreadsheets. The complexities they face in doing their jobs will impact your ability to establish credibility for the financial decisions and changes you wish to impose.
You’ll need access to information on demand, and you can’t be waiting weeks or months to get financial reports. And you can’t do any of that without having a comprehensive business intelligence reporting tool in place.
While there are many BI tools on the market, studies show many executives are afraid that implementing a new solution would cause more headaches than it’s worth. They don’t want to make any changes because of the perceived disruption it’ll cause. Perception isn’t always reality. Case in point: if you implement the right financial reporting tool, you’ll save thousands of hours, tens of thousands of dollars (in wasted time alone), and your sanity (which is priceless).
When researching BI solutions, be sure to focus only on the ones – such as Synoptix – that are made specifically for financial reporting. Most BI tools specialize in non-financial data and don’t allow for enough flexibility and ease of use for the needs of finance.
To learn more about ensuring you find the perfect reporting tool and minimize disruption to your team, read about best practices at “News You Can Use: The Debate About Excel…& Reporting”.
Jeana has been in the software industry for 13+ years specializing in ERP reporting solutions. She has decades of experience in creative content development and marketing and enjoys exercising, traveling & spending time with her husband & twin boys.
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