Why today’s CFO needs a broader set of shoulders

We know that multinationals are extending their shared-service models across more areas of scope to maximise economies of scale. But where does responsibility for these Global Business Services rest? Increasingly, it’s on the shoulders of the CFO.

Bearing more weight

As a result of this success of Global Business Services (GBS), there appears to be a shift in responsibilities taking place at the C-level. I’ve noticed that CFOs are getting involved in more areas of the business than ever before. 
The trend started with procurement, which was a natural fit with the finance team, and continued in many organisations with IT reporting into Finance. But now, as other areas of the business become packaged up into GBS, the CFO is taking on an increasing burden. I see them taking direct action with services like HR, supply chain and customer operations.

Beyond finance and into the front office

Part of the logic for the involvement of the CFO may of course be cost control, but more importantly there is an opportunity to take an end-to-end view of the business processes to improve core outcomes (cash generation, share price, quality and compliance). It involves strategy and process redesign; a focus on improving performance, rather than just reporting on it.
I am most struck by the trend of GBS and the CFOs to taking on the responsibility for front-office processes. This seems to be happening as other Board members (particularly the CMO) focus on the transformation required for new business models or creating more intimate, intelligent relationships with end consumers. (Which applies in both B2C and B2B organisations.)
So the traditional boundaries within the C-suite are changing. Everyone is becoming more aligned to the needs of the customer. They are working more as a group. CFOs are broadening their shoulders and taking on a wider workload.

Embracing the opportunity

These C-level changes present both a risk and an opportunity. The risk is that the CFO becomes over-stretched, overwhelmed and under pressure – with a host of Global Business Services to navigate, monitor, analyse and report on, all running on different systems. It becomes “an industry” in itself. But, if it’s done right, they’ll get to see the end-to-end value chain of the business in a single view. The key requirement is to measure the right things. “What you measure is what you get.”  That is where the Capgemini approach to Command & Control Centre reporting is vital to the success of a broad-shouldered CFO.

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