CFOs Are Institutionalising A Founder Run Business

Over the last 25 years, Venkat has been at the core of business and financial transformations of over 500 satisfied clients globally, including investees of over 100 PE/VC funds. He has completed his post graduate degree in Cost & Management Accounting from Institute of Cost Accountants of India, completed course regarding Accounting, Taxation and Finance and Risk management. He believes being an avid quizzer who loves chess and Agatha Christie in equal measure, has helped him to analyze, connect the dots, gain insights, think through solutions and making good decisions.

A Chief Financial Officer (CFO) can play a crucial role in helping you institutionalize your business and reduce dependence on your direct involvement in day-today activities. In several Founder run companies, the Founder is also the CEO and responsible for strategy. While most Founders don’t have an interest in necessarily running day-to-day operations, they are ‘forced’ to do so, given the constant escalations from customers, vendors or employees. The root causes are very often:
1.Lack of a strong management team, particularly direct reportees that the Founder can rely on.
2.Lack of standardised processes and heavy reliance on manual working (i.e. lack of integrated systems and automation).
3.Lack of real time performance metrics to tell the Founder the real operational and financial health of the business.

Here are several ways a CFO can assist you:
Team Development & Leadership:
A CFO can help in building a high-performing senior management team by working closely with HR to recruit, train and mentor capable professionals. They can establish clear roles and responsibilities, define performance expectations, and implement performance evaluation systems. By being a part of the interview and selection process, a CFO brings objectivity and data driven hiring decisions, by focusing on the past demonstrated track record of the senior hire and by delving deeper into practical examples of how the candidate has delivered measurable impact in his/her previous roles.

The clarity and focus that the CFO can bring to Job Description and in defining SMART Balanced Scorecards and KPIs are invaluable to both the candidate and HR, in keeping expectations realistic and clear.

By developing a strong line of dependable direct reportees, you can delegate more responsibilities, freeing up your time to focus on strategic matters.

By being a part of the interview and selection process, a CFO brings objectivity and data driven hiring decisions, by focusing on the past demonstrated track record of the senior hire and by delving deeper into practical examples of how the candidate has delivered measurable impact in his/ her previous roles

Process Improvement & System Implementation:
A CFO can assess your existing processes and systems to identify inefficiencies and gaps. They can lead initiatives to streamline operations, implement standardized procedures, and introduce robust financial management systems. This can improve productivity, enhance accuracy, and reduce dependency on individual knowledge or ad-hoc approaches.

Case 1: A retail company was grappling with a manual and disjointed procure-to-pay process, leading to inefficiencies, errors, and difficulties in managing cash flow.

The CFO recognized the need to streamline the procure-to-pay process and improve vendor management. They implemented an automated procurement system that integrated with the company's financial management system. The CFO collaborated with procurement, finance, and IT teams to define standardized processes, implement approval workflows, and enhance vendor relationships.

The streamlined procure-to-pay process reduced manual errors, improved invoice processing time, and increased visibility into cash flow. The CFO was able to negotiate better terms with vendors, optimize working capital, and enhance supplier relationships. The company achieved cost savings, reduced financial risks, and improved overall operational efficiency.

Financial Reporting & Analysis:
The CFO can establish comprehensive reporting mechanisms, providing you with accurate and timely financial information. They can develop key performance indicators (KPIs) and dashboards to monitor the company's financial health and track progress toward strategic goals. By having a clear understanding of the financial performance, you can make informed decisions and delegate responsibilities based on data-driven insights.

Case 2:A rapidly growing technology startup lacked standardized financialreporting and analysis, resulting in inconsistent data interpretation, delays in decision-making, and difficulty in tracking financial performance.

The CFO recognized the importance of consistent and reliable financial reporting. They established a standardized reporting framework, including templates, data collection processes, and reporting schedules. The CFO also implemented a business intelligence tool to automate data consolidation, visualization, and analysis.

The standardized financial reporting allowed the executive team to access accurate and timely information, enabling better decision-making. The CFO developed key performance indicators (KPIs) and dashboards that provided insights into revenue, expenses, and profitability metrics. This enabled the company to identify areas for improvement, optimize resource allocation, and drive strategic growth.

Overall, a CFO can bring financial expertise, strategic thinking, and operational insights to your organization. By collaborating with them, you can strengthen the financial foundation of your business, establish processes and systems, and gradually reduce your involvement in day-to-day activities. This shift allows you to focus on strategic responsibilities while building a sustainable and scalable business.