Building a Procurement Business Case for CFOs (Part 1)

A number of years ago before Spend Matters took off, I had the opportunity to work with an Azul Partners colleague, Brian Sommer, on a number of projects focused on highlighting the optimal ways of selling both internally, from a procurement perspective, and externally, from a sales perspective to the CFO. The great irony of this work is that it happened over five years before targeting the CFO as the end "customer" of many large-scale procurement initiatives, ranging from P2P systems compliance to procurement BPO/outsourcing. Today, regardless of whether you're a senior internal procurement practitioner (e.g., CPO) or a solutions provider, the CFO is really the ultimate spend gatekeeper, regardless of procurement's reporting relationship in the business.

In a series of posts looking at selling to the CFO, I'll plan to relay some of our older logic on the topic, sharing the timeless material and adapting the rest for today's procurement environment. CFOs can be a truly tough nut to crack, but the benefits of getting a CFO on-board with a program as early as possible (and ideally not just gaining support, but creating a true vocal proponent) can be significant and even transformative. To get inside the noggin of a typical CFO (or "rising" controller who already has CFO-like responsibility within a division) it's important to start with understanding CFO demographic and psychographic profiles. We'll tackle this later this week.

Later in this series, we'll explore on Spend Matters PRO how best to build CFO-focused business cases for a range of procurement (and AP)-centric initiatives, including the metrics and measures that are most likely to grab a finance executive's attention. We'll also tackle recommend tips for balancing desired procurement outcomes from given initiatives with those of other business stakeholders, especially those with direct reporting relationships to CFOs. In the case of HR, legal, IT and other areas of the business, it's critical to preempt arguments and pushback, especially in cases where procurement is taking greater ownership of overall spend and supplier development/management outcomes (not just sourcing).

Check back tomorrow as this series kicks off!

- Jason Busch

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