How Controllers Become Business Partners Summary (Strategic Finance)

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Finance Controllers –

often serving in the role of the CFO’s right hand, are finding themselves increasingly involved in business strategy. In some cases (namely while working for smaller organizations), controllers may even be fulfilling the CFO responsibilities themselves.

Finance professionals continue to experience the shifting demands of a rapidly modernizing workforce, as the traditional processes of collecting and reporting data figures are evolving into strategic decision making roles.

The Strategic Finance Recommended Steps

SF Magazine recommends three steps to put this evolution into practice:

  1. Deliver business insight: Controllers are being asked to provide data to both financial and non-financial departments. SF recommends simplifying the technological tools to streamline closing and disclosure processes through Enterprise Resource Management (ERP) tools. Learn more about some of these tools here.
    • Identify which metrics are actually driving business value.
    • Review and revise your costing system for better accuracy.
    • Expand data sources to satisfy changing information requirements.
  2. Gain Buy-in for more organizational responsibility: 80% of controllers believe in the power of finance functions, only 22% feel that their roles are properly valued by other departments. To bridge this gap:
    • Be proactive about changing current process that are inefficient.
    • Meet regularly with the leadership to identify needs and discuss goals.
    • Be able to demonstrate through specific examples of value added by the finance department. This is not always understood by those outside of the finance circle.
  3. Elevate skills: This requires taking the initiative by guiding others and improving the visibility of the finance team by adjusting the team’s mindset, setting goals, and continuously investing in your own education. Investing in these skills will also aid in expanding business capacity:
    • Strategic planning
    • Business partnering
    • Communication-specific attributes

What this Means for Controllers – Big Picture

As responsibilities broaden, controllers consistently find themselves adopting new approaches to professional advancement. The analytical skills controllers have developed are now being implemented at a more strategic level, meaning higher visibility in a more prominent organizational role.

Read the full article “How Controllers Become Business Partners” here.