Three things every modern CFO needs
From traditional financial metrics to the endless number of emerging AI technologies, there’s an overwhelming array of resources and tools at the modern CFO’s disposal. So where to focus? Data, the dashboards to display them, and the ability to forecast with confidence—here are the three things every modern CFO needs to succeed.
While no two companies are exactly alike, the most critical financial metrics largely stay constant from one business to the next. Finance leaders at either Fortune 100 organizations or startups must have a strong grasp of these traditional metrics if they want to intelligently advise their peers on the best decisions for the company.
For example, every CFO needs to have a firm grasp of the business’ current ratio (current assets divided by current liabilities) and/or working capital (current assets minus current liabilities) in order to understand the company’s access to liquid assets and overall financial strength. By the same token, cash flow (taking into account both accounts payable and accounts receivable) lets finance leaders know the health of not only their systems and processes, but also the ability of customers to pay on time. Finally, though sales performance and customer satisfaction may be managed by sales and customer success departments, CFOs also need a view into these metrics if they want complete context into business health.
A dynamic, centralized dashboard
“Can’t I just track all these metrics on a spreadsheet?”
While many businesses still manage their finances using spreadsheets, it’s much more common for smaller organizations with simpler revenue streams. For any growing company with multiple products, services, regions, and/or affiliates to manage, CFOs require a central, continuously updated dashboard where they can track all their most important metrics at a glance.
Even better: When a finance team is equipped with a cloud-based financial system directly connected to the master customer record, they can be more confident in the accuracy, consistency, and timeliness of the data they’re seeing. And it’s not just for the traditional metrics above. CFOs often rely on their staff for seemingly simple requests (e.g. “What’s the margin on service offering X?”), but such requests can plunge a finance team into chaos if they’re relying on spreadsheets. For finance teams with the benefit of a modern financial management system, however, answers can be surfaced almost instantly.
Ironically, “forecasts” of yesteryear almost always looked into the past. Limited by static spreadsheets or siloed dashboards, CFOs have traditionally depended upon lagging indicators, such as last quarter’s revenue, last year’s performance of different product lines, or historic growth trends. Not only was their data already aged (and in some cases inaccurate), but these finance leaders also had to hope their formulas were correct.
As mentioned above, connecting the front office (ERP) with back office data (CRM) opens up a treasure trove of financial information. Instead of relying on older, potentially inaccurate data, CFOs can actually start to see into the future and act accordingly. Whether it’s by seeing the faltering health (and late payments) from a certain customer, accelerating sales performance in a certain revenue stream, or similar signals, finance leaders can empower their peers to lay down strategic plans and act to future-proof the business.
To learn more about the CFO’s modern dashboard for financial analysis, join this webinar on Thursday, July 25 at 2:00 PM ET.