A CFO can act as a guardian for your business, by forecasting your cashflow and profitability, setting meaningful targets and helping you monitor your progress against them so you achieve your goals.
Looking Ahead – Forecasts
While most accountants are very good at telling you what has happened, not everyone is good at looking ahead. Historical accounting records are vital to any business, but so is a forecast. A forecast acts as a red flag, highlighting where profitability or cashflows are under threat. Forecasts need to be informed by well- thought out assumptions, and be capable of being updated quickly. These days numerous cloud-based forecasting tools are available, that are updated continuously from accounting systems.
ZZZZZ and Improving Your Business – KPIs
We all know the cliché that to improve something you have to measure it. To improve a business, you need clear targets or measure – key performance indicators (KPIs).
But how do you go about setting KPIs?
Here are some tips on setting KPIs. I call them the 5 Zs (I’m using American spelling – apologies to all of us using British spelling).
CustomiZe – KPIs must be relevant to your company. If you trade in inventory in different product categories, you need margin and turnover KPIs for your inventory categories. If you are a professional services company, inventory is irrelevant – you need labour utilization and efficiency measurements.
PrioritiZe – it is tempting to want to choose 100 goals, but don’t. If you or your staff are faced with 100 KPIs, you very quickly become overwhelmed and lose focus. Select 5-10 KPIs. Each manager or department will have their own KPIs.
VisualiZe – KPIs need to be visible and visually appealing. People need to see how they are progressing on a regular basis – every day or every week. Only by monitoring their progress constantly can they make changes to their behaviour to improve their performance. It is no use waiting until budget time at the end of the year to review how well you and your team have done.
OrganiZe – people need to be held accountable for achieving the targets. Each KPI needs a manager who is accountable for achieving that particular goal.
OptimiZe – constantly monitor and improve your performance. This means regular reviews and making the changes needed to stay competitive in your environment. This is particularly important in our current environment, where COVID19 has disrupted many industries and changed the operating environment.
A key element in monitoring your performance against KPIs is a system that gives accurate and reliable data, quickly. There is no one-size-fits-all system; you need to select a system that relates to your business needs. It’s critical that the setup and implementation of the system takes into account your business needs and your goals.
The Role of a CFO
Of course, you can try and do all of this yourself, but it is much easier to have an experienced person do it for you. A part-time CFO will be able to assess your business and set meaningful KPIs. Your CFO can take thorough look at how you are using your system, and whether changes need to be made. Regular meetings to review your forecasts and how you are performing against your KPIs will ensure you achieve your goals.
Written by Andrew de Bruyn, Principal (WA) – The CFO Centre