The Full-Stack CFO
There’s a good chance that most departments across your organization incorporate technology into their processes every day to improve the way they operate – whether it’s the Marketing and Sales team using CRM tools, or HR relying on an employee benefits automation solution. One department where businesses often fail to adopt technology however, is their finance departments. We aren’t talking an automated accounting system, but rather adopting technology solutions that streamline multiple processes that in the past, have required tedious manual efforts.
The stereotype that CFOs are old school, and prefer a pen and paper to automated online programs and electronic document storage couldn’t be farther from the truth. Today’s CFOs are tech-savvy individuals, and most use technology daily in their personal lives – from making payments via mobile app, to checking bank statements online.
Strategic Business Leader
The modern CFO is expected to do more than just handle their company’s finances. Today’s CFOs are actively involved in various business capacities, from meeting with various department heads, to offering fresh ideas during executive team meetings. CFO’s are primary drivers of their business models, and responsible for making key business decisions and responding strategically to market challenges.
Deloitte’s CFO Framework
Deloitte developed a framework around the four diverse and challenging roles of a CFO. It includes two traditional roles, steward and operator, as well as a couple other roles, strategist and operator, which are increasingly important to the role of the modern CFO.
- Steward – Preserve the assets of the organization by minimizing risk and getting the books right.
- Operator – Run a tight finance operation that is efficient and effective.
- Strategist – Help to shape overall strategy and direction of the business.
- Catalyst – Instill a financial approach and mind set throughout the organization to help other parts of the business perform better.
In order for a CFO to embody the four roles above, he or she must be able to rapidly respond to evolving technologies across the business landscape, and adopt new technologies in their own department to increase efficiency. For these reasons, we’ve added a fifth “face” to the CFO framework above:
- Tech-savvy: Clearly understands the benefits of technology for business.
A tech savvy CFO uses technology to drive innovation across the four faces (steward, operator, strategist, and catalyst) to improve efficiency, control, cost savings, and revenue across the company.
The Full-Stack CFO
Together, these five roles make up the “full-stack CFO.” The term “full-stack” has been around for a while, and stems from the developer community. Much like a full service developer who does back-end server development and front-end web development, the full-stack CFO runs the finance department, while driving innovation across the company, often with technology.
Often, the most immediate impact of a full-stack CFO can be found by looking at his or her own department. A full-stack CFO uses technology to streamline financial processes, including accounting, treasury and cash management, receivables, and payables.
For example, CFOs can improve the entire invoice-to-pay process just by introducing an accounts payable (AP) automation solution. The benefits of AP automation include:
- Increased efficiency
- Savings of 70 percent or more in processing costs
- Clear visibility into cash flow operations
- Early payment discounts and rebates
- Reduced payment risks
- Advanced payment security features and fraud protection
The real impact of a full-stack CFO impact is their ability to embrace technology for business processes not only within financial operations, but throughout the organization. And it’s not only CFOs that are asked to do more with less. Many scaling businesses struggle to keep up with their rapid growth. A full-stack CFO understands how technology, and in particular automation, can help keep costs down while allowing employees to focus tasks that will move the company forward.
- The positive impact of the full-stack CFO and how change is realized
- How to evolve into the new role of the CFO
- The outcome of a full-stack CFO
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