The best CFOs strive to understand how their finance team can better serve the overall business. Based on NetSuite’s Spring 2022 Survey data, there are four domains where peer executives see room for growth:
- communicating with stakeholders and employees;
- collaborating to improve business functions; and
- scenario planning and forecasting;
- analyzing data.
CFOs can easily sharpen these skills, and Daston’s DCAA-on-Demand solution is here to help.
Becoming a better communicator comes down to practice. This could mean presenting to the board or leading a session at an industry conference. Networking events and meetings put on by local professional organizations and other groups are also a great place to meet more junior finance and accounting professionals who may be looking for experienced mentors, another good way to work on communication skills.
The classic “management by walking around” is a great idea for CFOs. Becoming a familiar face can make you more approachable and naturally increase communication with others across the organization.
Those looking for formalized training can choose from a broad assortment of executive courses on communication. Well-known universities offer in-person and virtual programs that cover topics like creating memorable pitches and engaging presentations, voice regulation, and body language.
Financial leaders hoping to become better collaborators need to find ways to ingrain themselves in the business. For those who manage large teams, it can be a good idea to embed finance personnel in different units.
During tumultuous times, frequent cross-functional meetings led by the CFO and other executives are morale boosters. They keep everyone up-to-date on what major events mean for the business and offer a diverse range of employees the opportunity to explain their challenges and brainstorm solutions.
The IT department is an excellent place for CFOs to start when launching or deepening a collaboration initiative. Automation and fintech are important focuses for companies as hiring remains difficult, and the CIO is an invaluable partner now.
- Data Analysis
Much of what previously made up the workload for accounting and finance professionals is now automated. This will only continue, which means the finance team needs to develop more advanced analysis skills. That requires an understanding of the latest business intelligence tools and technologies, like machine learning and predictive analytics.
The level of insights you can provide from vast data repositories is also dependent on the tools at your disposal. You need software that can automatically store and process large amounts of information, leaving more time for observation and analysis.
- Scenario Planning and Forecasting
The work of finance professionals and accountants in particular can revolve around things that happened in the past. There’s a certainty with historical numbers that some appreciate. But forward-looking projections are an equally important part of the CFO’s purview. One way to enhance your forecasting skills is to develop a deeper understanding of what makes the business tick.
Finance executives should also look to leverage all the data they have available to them, whether internal or external. Start with simple models and gradually progress from there.
Another piece of this is, again, having the right supporting technology. Does your planning software automatically pull information in from other sources, like an ERP system? Does the solution make it easy to change variables to see the results of different potential scenarios? This will impact both the quality of your financial models and how frequently they’re updated.
There are also educational courses available for general financial modeling, specific types of modeling, and modeling for various industries.
How Daston Helps CFOs Hone These Skills
No single piece of technology can solve a CFO’s challenges in these areas. However, the right technology goes hand-in-hand to build these skills.
For example, communication and collaboration. When an entire business runs on a single platform, with users across departments, Daston’s DCAA-on-Demand solution makes it easy for a CFO to see what others are working on and how his or her efforts might impact joint initiatives.
Consider projects that involve contracts, purchase orders, and customer records, all of which cross over multiple departments. When the finance team has deeper insight, there is a better chance that the CFO can spot problems and reach out to the appropriate person to address them. Therefore, the CFO is more embedded in the business and becomes a trusted resource for other teams.
The connection between data analysis skills and ERP is even more clear. The primary reason businesses invest in ERP is to put their critical information in one place, which unlocks new reporting capabilities and offers transparency across the organization.
As a NetSuite partner, Daston has a powerful reporting engine to make whatever comparisons or calculations a CFO might need and also comes with common reports prebuilt. Saved searches allow CFOs to find what they need in the vast data repository and save it for future reference, when it will reflect the latest results. All of these assets allow for deeper data insights.
Finally, getting better at forecasting and scenario planning takes a combination of skills and software. This all starts with an ERP system that unites all the financial information that may be needed for forecasts and models. That system can then be integrated with a more specialized financial planning system to pull in data from the ERP to run various what-if scenarios and to help with related functions.
You can start to see how skills development and technology work hand-in-hand. CFOs should not overlook the role of a best-in-class financial management system like Daston’s in helping them do their jobs better.
More than ever, CFOs are strategic partners who shape a company’s biggest business decisions. By becoming better communicators, collaborators, data analyzers, and forecasters, CFOs will only add to the tremendous value they already provide to the organization.
Interested in how Daston can help you take your business to the next level? Schedule a complimentary consultation today (703) 288-3200