Moving From Operational Wizz To Strategic Visionary

Posted by Onno Van der Valk, Senior Director of Finance on September 23, 2013

operational wizz to strategic visionary

The professional service sector is increasingly pressed to do more for less: competition is rife, the economy is still recovering, and clients (both internal and external) requesting immediate response are the norm. Sitting on the receiving end of these pressures is often a firm’s Chief Financial Officer (CFO). With a finger on the pulse of business operations, enabling complete control, visibility and efficiency are ongoing challenges that need to be addressed by a CFO to ensure their firm’s profitability and growth. And to successfully achieve these objectives, a new breed of CFO is required – one with an innovative attitude.

But innovation, by its very definition, requires change. There has been a noted movement of finance teams from being a purely operational function, mostly concerned with paying invoices and chasing remittances, to that of a strategic advisor driving change within project-based firms. I have experienced this myself. Long gone are the days when CFO’s were just a calculator for their company, now I am juggling an assortment of responsibilities and initiatives that drive our company success.

We still deal with the internal factors that have always been a priority: driving a reduction in costs, improving the quality of the products/services we deliver, and improving our internal processes. These are the bread and butter of the CFO role, and something we all deal with day to day. Where the real change has come, is in the external factors; such as launching new products/services, entering new markets, and undertaking organisational change (such as M&A). All of which are strategic business initiatives that need the CFO at the helm.

But in order to put our strategic hat on, we need time. Which more often than not, comes from tackling one of the forementioned priorities: streamlining internal processes. This comes from transforming the back office and getting the day-to-day functions like AP and AR working like clockwork.

At Deltek, we have practiced what we preach and taken a dual pronged approach to becoming a strategic finance function. We deployed our Maconomy ERP platform to handle core processes and reduce the unnecessary admin burden. This in turn allowed us to transform our finance team model to that of a scalable shared service centre of functional specialists who service all of our European offices more efficiently. As a consequence we now have more time to focus on strategic initiatives that are truly going to deliver against our organisational goals for growth and improved profitability.