Best Practices

The CFO's New Playbook: Agility, Collaboration, and Data-Driven Decisions

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Traditionally, CFOs acted as the gatekeepers of a company's financial data, responsible for reporting and managing the financial aspects of the business. They were often considered the final sign-off, a necessary end to a process that largely happened without them. 

Now, the modern CFO has evolved into a role that extends beyond financial reporting. Instead of simply presenting numbers, CFOs provide insights and analysis that can help drive business decisions and strategy.

This means that finance teams must change the way they operate. No longer linear and inflexible, they must be collaborative partners across the business, with agile and iterative processes. The world moves fast, and data-driven decisions need to keep pace. 

How finance leaders can best position themselves

Modern CFOs are no longer confined to the finance department—they’re actively shaping the company's strategic direction. In fact, in some small-to-mid-market companies, the role of the CFO has expanded significantly. In addition to their traditional financial responsibilities, CFOs oversee data & analytics and Revenue Operations (RevOps) teams. This expanded scope reflects the increasing importance of data-driven decision-making and the need for alignment between different departments.

This shift in responsibilities requires CFOs to have a broader skill set, including operational expertise, strategic thinking, and the ability to collaborate across the business. CFOs are now expected to work closely with leaders from sales, marketing, operations, and other departments to develop and execute the company's go-to-market strategy, optimize operations, and drive business performance.

Modern finance workflows

It’s critical for finance teams to align their workflows with those of their business partners. 

In the past, finance workflows were often linear and focused on specific tasks such as budgeting, forecasting, and reporting. These workflows were typically executed sequentially, with little room for flexibility or adaptation to changing business conditions.

The modern finance function has evolved to become more agile and responsive to the needs of the business. Finance workflows are now characterized by iterative cycles allowing continuous monitoring, analysis, and adjustment. These cycles enable finance teams to adapt to changing market conditions, respond to new business opportunities, and make real-time data-driven decisions.

Clean, consistent, and readily available data

It’s imperative to have a centralized source of data for the organization. Integrating software and systems can help automate data flow between departments, reducing manual interventions and ensuring everyone can access the latest data. 

Data-based decisions are only valuable if the underlying data is correct and complete. Having enough reliable data is essential for identifying trends, enabling businesses to stay ahead of market shifts and take proactive measures. 

Since different cross-functional teams use financial data for day-to-day operations, everyone should agree on naming conventions and metric definitions. Definitions should be consistent across tools to avoid misinterpretation, ensure accuracy, and facilitate smooth data integration. 

The right tools

To facilitate this level of partnership, CFOs need tools that enable seamless communication, information sharing, and real-time collaboration on projects and initiatives. They should also be able to integrate with other tools used by sales, RevOps, and other departments to ensure a unified and streamlined workflow. 

For example, FP&A software like Vareto automates many manual and regularly recurring FP&A tasks and can help reduce errors while saving significant time. Finance teams can leverage integrations with ERP, CRM, HRIS, and other tools to bring previously siloed data directly into one platform, serving as the primary source of truth for operational and financial data. 

Real-time access to financial data and insights promotes informed decision-making and allows teams to adapt quickly to changes in the market. Additionally, collaboration features in FP&A software can increase transparency and trust between finance teams and business stakeholders by reducing friction and back-and-forth delays. When used correctly, these tools can help CFOs and their teams break down information silos, improve communication, and drive better decision-making.

The future of finance

As the boundaries of traditional finance roles blur, the emphasis is now on adaptability, collaboration, and real-time decision-making. With the right tools and a commitment to iterative processes, finance leaders are poised to lead their organizations into a future where data is the foundation of business success.

Want to learn more?

Check out The New Frontier in Finance, a report that examines the transformation of the CFO role and finance organizations. It explores how AI and unified platform solutions are shaping the finance toolset, empowering finance teams to transition from data consumers to data drivers.

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