Building a Procurement Business Case for CFOs (Part 4)

Read the previous installments in this series below:

Part 1: Introduction and Background
Part 2: CFO Demographics
Part 3: CFO Churn and Risk Aversion

CFOs are the true MacGyver's of the corporate world. They like to do more with less than what they have already. Ideas to redeploy or leverage existing assets in creative ways can truly capture the attention of enterprising CFOs. But CFOs are also calendar-driven, and monthly, quarterly and annual deadlines often take precedent over everything else. This calendar-driven mentality is branded into the DNA of a CFO based on their typical accounting training (see Part 2 of this series for more detail).

Yet few CFOs want to be the top dog accountant the rest of their career. This is why CFOs secretly live for large strategic programs and initiatives if they fit inside the right type of corporate box. These programs might take the form of a large acquisition (or a series of smaller ones). CFOs also like to involve themselves in larger transactions outside of M&A (strategic relationships, helping structure the largest channel/customer revenue deals, etc.) Given this interest, there is a good angle to play (which we'll explore further later in this series) in positioning procurement initiatives in a much more strategic light that captures the right level of CFO interest early in the process.

CFOs don't just like to claim victory after internal victory and move on. They are social creatures (despite the fear they can instill in those around them). Our research suggests they enjoy meeting with peers (especially other CFOs and CEOs/boards) as often as possible, especially in cases where networking can lead to career advancements. Yet while CFOs like to see themselves as strategic, their training and background is almost always transactional and tactical, which is precisely why it's critical to invest the time to train and educate CFOs on the strategic aspects of procurement and the supply chain. We can't assume they're up to speed on any of the latest tactics, programs, methods and approaches (not to mention tools).

When it comes to CFO risk taking, a subject we've examined in part already and will explore further later in this series, CFOs are comparatively shy. CTOs, in comparison, take lots of risks. CIOs take moderate to high risks. Looking at CFO DNA, are research suggests "controllers are transaction focused and are interested in process improvements in accounting, finance, reporting, payroll, etc." rather than thinking outside the F&A box. This is why procurement education, again, is so critical to making CFOs feel comfortable with large-scale procurement initiatives.

Up next: CFO's top motivations as business leaders.

- Jason Busch

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