Building a Procurement Business Case for CFOs (Part 3)

Read the previous installments in this series below:

Part 1: Introduction and Background
Part 2: CFO Demographics

The number one issue that CFOs care most about is career longevity. Coming at finance from a procurement angle, we often have a view that CFOs typically have longer career spans than procurement heads (many tend to churn every 3-4 years). At the time of our research, CFOs tended to spend 18-36 months longer than a typical CIO in their job positions, but the overall tenure length (absolute and comparative) has risen materially in recent years. In fact, according to CFO magazine, annual CFO turnover (2011) numbers in the Fortune 1000 came in at 11.5%, down almost 50% from a high of 18% in 2008.

Ironically, there's a counter-cyclical impact of CFO churn with the economy: "In down times, corporate boards yearn for certainty and therefore are reluctant to make bold changes in key executive positions ... Making the CFO a scapegoat for a company's poor performance is not a popular strategy."

With CFOs staying longer in their positions than before, it's important to consider further CFO characteristics that can help to target the right type of business cases, in light of the risk aversion of typical board of directors in the current climate. Perhaps most important, CFOs tend to be very risk adverse, especially relative to other corporate executives. They are the gatekeepers, after all. However, CFOs do tend to respond to risk mitigation opportunities and they also have a penchant for making the right kinds of strategic bets.

For procurement program targeting, the ultimate key to making CFOs active sponsors and advocates of important initiatives is to tap into these two psychographic criteria at the same time. We'll explore specific tactics around how to do this later in this series.

Up next: exploring more CFO psychographics and comparing finance executives to other senior leaders.

- Jason Busch

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