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5 daily irritants facing CFOs in 2024

It’s not easy, being a CFO. Pressures come from all sides. Internally, the CEO and fellow directors want up-to-date information, budgets, forecasts and analysis, while externally, stakeholders want to know about future direction, financial efficiencies and market competitiveness.

At the same time, CFOs are the line manager for busy finance departments and senior finance professionals, who each have their own priorities and stresses. And, of course, they want to develop their role and the business, exploiting new opportunities, establishing prudent financial management and helping to set the future strategy of the overall organisation.

A highly pressured job, then, but with a significant and important role to play – and a long list of daily irritants. Those ‘if only we could get this done faster’ issues that take up too much team time and keep CFOs awake at night.

Here are the top 5 daily irritants that CFOs are facing at the moment, according to our conversations. Of course, these can change as the organisation, its markets or the wider economy changes, but we think these worries are common. Which of them resonates with you?

Irritant #1: Not enough working capital

Good working capital and healthy cash flow are essential to a CFOs sense of control and agility. But all too often, working capital is annoyingly tied up in the business – usually on inventory and accounts receivable. Knowing you have enough working capital now and in the months ahead gives you security and the ability to make better plans and decisions, particularly if market conditions are challenging, or you are concerned about the economic effects of political change.

Would you like to release working capital with confidence and on an ongoing basis?

Irritant #2: Production and supply chain inefficiencies

When you are in a CFO role, there’s always the knowledge that things could be more efficient, especially in your supply chain. How do you navigate supply chain disruptions or delays, and how do you handle logistics? Making the right efficiencies reduces costs, frees up time, increases productivity and enhances margins. But if you don’t know exactly where those efficiencies can be made, this just ends up as a nagging doubt about whether the business is operating as smoothly and cost-efficiently as it could.

If you can reveal the inefficiencies in your business, how would that help your bottom line?

Irritant #3: Stressed teams and staff turnover

You employ talented, highly qualified and experienced people. And yet they spend a lot of their time collecting information, organising spreadsheets, de-duplicating data and preparing reports manually. When reports are needed, they stay late to complete them, and are then tired and stressed trying to catch up. People leave, putting additional strain on your team, and incurring costs for recruitment.

What if your team could concentrate on their strengths and focus their expertise on the things that matter?

Irritant #4: Cost control and variance analysis

Production costs can be volatile – we’ve seen this over the past few years with raw materials costs, for example. But labour costs, overheads and other ongoing costs can be so variable that it’s difficult to forecast accurately. At the same time, CFOs are under pressure to deliver better numbers and more reliable scenario planning. So how do you manage the analysis of actual vs. budget deviations?

How would it feel to have real-time data at your fingertips that helps you control costs reliably and budget more accurately?

Irritant #5: Risk management niggles

Good risk management is essential to running a successful corporate entity. Many aspects of a risk register will be the responsibility of the CFO, including managing issues such as global operations across a range of currencies, monitoring interest rate changes and assessing their impact on debt, and anticipating market volatility, where it affects products, services, investments and financial instruments.

What if you knew your risk management was based on the latest, reliable data? How would that help with critical business decisions?

Sound familiar?

While an ERP or a business intelligence system can help you with some of these issues, they can’t help with all of them. And they certainly can’t help from day one. But there are smart systems on the market, based on the latest data science and using machine learning to augment the human intelligence in your team. Not replace it – augment it. And these systems can work across all your existing IT estate, so no unnecessary integration issues, no installation downtime and no eye-watering investment. 

CFOs can banish daily irritants with the right technology. What will you choose?

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