I have the pleasure of attending a conference next month to present the results of a survey we have just wrapped up that explores what finance directors know of the term ‘chief performance officer’, or CPO. The results were meaty and reflected a bigger story around where FDs are headed after recession. While not many FDs are familiar with the term CPO, we found a great swathe of them are doing the job on a daily basis.
For the unaquainted, CPOs are all about ways to measure and increase efficiency to push through change. The results were interesting because they reinforce how much more important FDs have become to their organisations – and it points to some ways they can maintain that stature once recession is ebbing away when the resident abacus-man (or woman) isn’t required to be on speed dial anymore.
In the CPO role, FDs have another way to cement their achievements by measuring the results of their hard work more effectively, using the data from that measurement to communicate their successes and challenges more lucidly to the board. It gives them something tangible to go to non-financial departments with and push through changes to help the business stay within budget and on target for growth.
With this, FDs can remain important and listened to when the economy is taken off life support.
While looking through the analysis, attempting to dream up some smart lines with which to present it at the conference, I hit on a gem that sums up how all this helps the FD. It goes: In 2009, cash was king. In 2010, the FD will be king.
Why? Because the CPO/FD will be the go-to person with the right data and can explain without causing any migraines what it really means – and where the moneymaking comes in.
Melanie Stern, editor
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