The Evolution of the Full Stack CFO
Chief Financial Officer has never been an easy job. To be truly successful, they have to be able to look at the company’s past, present, and future at the same time with different goals and strategies.
The Full Stack CFO has a strong understanding of how technology can improve their bottom line. They keep an open mind to new ideas and processes. They avoid getting bogged down in dated procedures.
Although the phenomenon is relatively new, the nature of the position has changed as quickly as technology does. The term “full stack” actually originates in software development and refers to a programmer who can work with every platform under the sun, from PHP and HTML to database management and even occasionally Photoshop or Captivate. For a CFO, the word has ultimately come to reflect a perspective that sees the convergence of technological advancements and better financial strategy. When electronic signatures and faxed documentation first came into being, Full Stack CFOs were likely among the first to capitalize on these new opportunities. ERP software is well within their grasp and they have a clear understanding of when to tweak processes to gain the best possible advantage.
The power of software isn’t lost on Full Stack CFOs. They run finances smoothly while also keeping their eyes on the horizon for new changes and opportunities for improvement. Staying informed on changes in the industry is also a big part of their job, perhaps most critically as it relates to technology. Some technological advancements have been a tremendous boost for companies but some create more problems than they solve.
Keeping an eye on the cost of new technology is also a serious concern for a CFO. Although the advantages of software may seem apparent, it’s up to the CFO to make sure they get enough value out of these implementations and don’t end up spending more than the improvement will be worth. The value proposition of software automation, especially for financial processes, is complex. Comparing different avenues for success rationally is the hallmark of our modern version.
Having the ability to project into the distance and accurately forecast critical numbers for the entire company is an essential function of a skilled CFO. The full stack CFO dives deeper into their metrics and understand the value of having opportunities to mine data. As access to metadata grows, CFOs can make more accurate predictions and have more reliable long-term information. Periodic reviews of technology options are an absolute must to stay ahead and benchmark processes to ensure they are all functioning as expected.
Discerning which technical advantages are worth pursuing and which will end up being more trouble than they’re worth. This requires close attention to current procedures, a firm understanding of process improvement, and a discerning eye at technological advancements. Determining when or even if a software solution will be worth the investment is only going to become more important as a skill for CFOs. As the business landscape continues to move towards process automation, full stack CFOs are essential to keeping your finance department with the times.
Are you a “full stack” CFO or is there one in your company? Although tech-savvy is on the list of ideal CFO traits, a lot of companies are still moving forward without much consideration beyond the ERP system from their CFO. Make sure your finance department is reviewing all of the options and that the person you have heading the team is committed to improvement and flexible enough to see the value of new technology.