DIY CFO DOA?

 Adaptive insights, cloud cpm software, corporate performance management, business budgeting software, budgeting and forecasting, visual analytics, financial reporting software, financial consolidationSince 2005, I have been working with CFO’s in a staffing capacity or as an Account Manager in CPM. And from the very beginning of this stage of my career I noticed two very important things. Today, both of these lessons are just as valuable to my career, and to business leaders, as they were when I first learned them over a decade ago.

1.       In asking for a meeting, either to discuss recruiting or a CPM application, the objections are strikingly similar:

  •    “We hire and budget with no help from a recruiter or CPM application, even though it’s not ideal.”

2. CFO’s that were willing to pay a placement fee were also more likely to invest in a CPM application like Adaptive Planning. 

Recently I was tasked with hiring new sales reps. When my boss offered the use of contingency recruiters, I politely declined. Why would I pay someone to do something that I can do perfectly well myself, vis-a-vis Dwight K. Schrute?

Within 2 weeks I had an offer out to someone I had worked with previously. I was sure I could find Sales Rep #2 just as fast as I had found the first one.

After weeks of tapping my network, I threw in the towel. I engaged three recruiters and bought a LinkedIn job posting. Two months later, I’m still searching.

It shouldn’t have surprised me that I was overconfident in my DIY, as I have a track record of undertaking home improvement projects that end up with a panicked call to a professional.  

So the question is: When should you do it yourself?

Answer: Only when you are 100% sure that you can do it as well as a professional.

Here’s why:

In November 2012, Deloitte released its Fast 500 — a list of the fastest growing technology companies. Adaptive Planning was #104, and 48 of the 500 companies on the list were Adaptive Planning clients. I recognized at least another 100 companies that were using competitive mid-market CPM solutions. Add in the enterprise companies like Facebook and Salesforce that are using Tier 1 tools, and I estimate that over 75% of the list is not budgeting with a spreadsheet. Also, most of the New England companies that I recognized on the list are using recruiting firms for hiring.

How did these companies make this list? Did they become best in class because they sell a hot product? Did the leaders of these companies identify their strengths, and are then willing to pay for a service outside of their expertise? Do successful companies have extra money to spend on top-tier talent and automated budgeting systems?

The graphic below, courtesy of Armanino, details the discrepancy between the current and desired time allocation of today' CFOs.

The graphic below, courtesy of Armanino, details the discrepancy between the current and desired time allocation of today’ CFOs.

On the contrary, why would anyone incur additional, seemingly unnecessary operating expenses? What should the approach be if your company is not growing as planned?

When it comes to recruiting, the answer can vary. If you have a good relationship with a contingency fee recruiter, you can set mutually beneficial ground rules. Don’t rely solely on the recruiter or the internal job postings. Your own networking efforts are critical here. The best candidate is one who doesn’t need to find a new job, and maybe doesn’t know they are looking until you tap them on the shoulder. Keep in touch with your former staff, alumni, and co-workers.  If you find someone on your own, you’re a hero. If you don’t and the recruiter delivers a candidate worth the 25% premium, hire through the recruiter and push for a good guarantee.

When it comes to planning, the answer is clear.  Even if you think your model is error free, how fast is it? When your CEO asks if the company can afford to give 90-day payment terms to a top customer in exchange for a huge order, how quickly can you give an accurate answer? check out the graphic, courtesy of Armanino, Adaptive Planning premier partner and a Gold Certified Microsoft Dynamics ERP provider, that illustrates the desired time allocation model for today’s CFOs.

 Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to deliver a confident, empirical answer, in minutes? Is a 25% placement fee a good investment if it gets you an auditor who implements stronger controls or a billing professional who reduces A/R? These value-adds make the difference between good and great, and can also influence how you are perceived within your organization. It’s no accident that great companies can attract great people, because they don’t always to try to DIY.

 

 

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