CFO Partnerships Are Putting the Collaboration in C-Suite

If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.

While the origins of that allegedly African proverb appear to be shrouded in uncertainty, the applications of its message have never been more important for the future of today’s chief financial officers (CFOs).

As businesses look to leverage an exciting onrush of digital technologies, CFOs are increasingly being tasked with teaming up with their peer chief information officers (CIOs), chief product officers (CPOs), chief technology officers (CTOs) and others in order to determine the most effective enterprise investment strategy. The goal is to capture the efficiencies of future-fit digital innovations without veering into vendor bloat or toolkit redundancy.

After all, as the keepers of the enterprise purse strings, CFOs play a crucial role in deciding how, where and on what the investment dollars of an organization are spent — and if CFOs and their other C-suite peers don’t find themselves speaking the same language when it comes to framing up a broader digitization strategy, then the enterprise is likely to suffer from a stunted go-forward plan.

In the past, cross-departmental dealings may have been adversarial with department chiefs seeking money for projects while the CFO was gatekeeper of the company budget, but that is all changing. Digital solutions allow for a more holistic look at business roadmaps and cross-department collaborations are increasing.

Finding funding for digital initiatives is smoother when C-suite relationships are collegial and centered on business success, with CFOs viewed as business partners and not just budget owners.

See also: Next Generation of CFOs Tackle New Challenges With Digital Solutions

Technology Forges a More Productive Dialogue Between Departments

The challenge for CFOs is always managing enterprise growth with spend — and where a business spends its money tends to inform and frame its broader strategy.

That’s why it has become so important for business leaders across departments to have a transparent, high-level view of their operations that indicates where to continue to invest, where to pull back spending and how to leverage modern technology to provide an optimal return on investment (ROI).

“From a CFO perspective, we need to engage and partner with our counterparts in the organization, such as the CIO, to align around how to deploy technologies, how much to spend on technologies, what’s the pace of change around that … because there is this benefit that you may not see for the first 12, 24, 36 months, but it’s the right thing to do,” Angela Floyd, CFO at DPR Construction, told PYMNTS.

Being able to have discussions around business needs that satisfy growth plans at an individual department level are key to ensuring that everyone is aligned and informed.

And spearheading these discussions often falls to the CFO.

“How do we empower the board and leadership to understand where the business is going, understanding those key aspects, and having those KPI [key performance indicator] dashboards to really drive us,” Joe Pergola, CFO at Connatix, told PYMNTS.

Read more: 2024’s Top Trends CFOs Need to Know

Cross-Departmental Discussions Drive Better Results

A strong relationship between the CFO and other C-suite leadership can help organizations stay on track with spend, while staying ahead of technology trends.

“An important part of the CFO role and finance organization is to bring everybody together and translate all the goals … trying to get all the different perspectives, visions, ambitions, goals, and yes, spend requests, together and really putting it all together in a complete financial picture that then allows the finance team to prioritize, communicate, and track all the KPIs,” Bas Brukx, CFO at East Coast-based sales enablement platform provider Allego, told PYMNTS last February.

Creating a culture of collaboration starts with the CFO having a good understanding of the business, and ends with encouraging two-way communication that breaks down departmental silos between a business’s operational processes and internal working systems.

“I feel like I’m a big sounding board. Not only for the CEO but also the rest of the team. We really work together. There’s a lot of decisions to be made about what we’re doing,” Leslie Daniel, CFO at Generatold PYMNTS.

As the responsibilities of the CFO and finance teams broaden beyond just closing the books, paying bills and creating a budget, collaboration will be critical for the finance seat’s evolution to being a central resource for managing business priorities and organizational directives.

As Marc Greenberg, CFO at Altruist, said to PYMNTS, “You can’t spend money on everything, and you have to take a long-term view … it is important for finance leaders to be ruthless in their prioritization when it comes to making digital investments.”

Digital Payments: Changing Economy Sparks New Priorities for Systems Spending,” a PYMNTS Intelligence and Corcentric collaboration, finds the most effective changes frequently start with payments, with at least 3 in 5 CFOs reporting that their investments in digital payment processes have improved business operations.