Economic crises are always challenging times for CFOs. Risks intensify amid revenue and margin pressures. The year-long global pandemic is no exception.
It is in times like these that a digitally savvy chief financial officer can be the chief executive’s key ally in steering a large company through the storm. Exactly what that partnership-in-crisis could and should look like is the topic of my new article in TCS’ most recent edition of Perspectives.
I examine five ways in which CFOs whom I know have stepped up to the plate: monitoring external business risks (for example, litigation); reassuring talent that the ship is steady; re-examining growth initiatives; making forecasts more accurate; and spotting attractive acquisitions.
CFOs can also play a more effective role by making their own function more digital. In my article, I describe how TCS has built an integrated, enterprise-wide, single-instance financial accounting and reporting system. It has enabled us to rapidly spot marketplace and internal issues, often with microscopic granularity, and provide information so that our leaders can make key decisions quickly. One example (you’ll learn more about in the article): Within weeks of the pandemic’s initial shock of confinement, our financial system allowed us to gather results from the 50-plus countries where we operate and report earnings on time.
I also share four key lessons we have learned in building a powerful digital finance function. They touch upon the breadth of the finance value chain, the availability of key performance data, the importance of non-financial metrics such as customer satisfaction, and embedding finance professionals in business units.
You can read much more about this in the latest edition of TCS’s management journal, Perspectives.