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Introduction - A CFO sees value differently than others in the organization: Importance, Worth, Usefulness

Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.

Steve Jobs

Finance and accounting professionals don’t view themselves as bookkeepers but instead, they see themselves as leaders who are business outcome focused and forward looking, business partners that are stewards of company profit and resources, innovators and strategists.

While it’s popular to think of these professionals as “bean-counters”, they understand that success isn’t defined solely in terms of “dollars and cents”.  While money is clearly a focus to be successful, they also know that a singular focus on money will only get you so far and will short-change optimum enterprise value.

These leaders understand that people are their greatest asset whereby they must think more broadly, be more innovative, more willing to adapt, and, enabling of their teams to be successful in their own right.

A recent Harvard Business Review article describes three areas of value that every employee wants and needs to be engaged, motivated and highly productive: career, community, and cause.  The 3 Things Employees Really Want: Career, Community, Cause

Cause - Feeling that you make a meaningful impact, identifying with the organization’s mission, and believing that it does some good in the world. It’s a source of pride.

“It's not hard to make decisions when you know what your values are.” - Roy Disney

Community - Community is about people: feeling respected, cared about, and recognized by others. It drives our sense of connection and belongingness.

“Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.” - Albert Einstein

Career - Having a job that provides autonomy, allows you to use your strengths, and promotes your learning and development. It’s at the heart of intrinsic motivation.

“Happiness is not in the mere possession of money; it lies in the joy of achievement, in the thrill of creative effort” - Franklin D. Roosevelt.


What value means for customers

To be successful, we recognize that for any company, people are the most important asset.  Before evaluating any solution, we must first focus on the cause.  This means answering the questions:

  • What makes our company unique?

  • What are our strategic objectives?

  • What are our strengths and weaknesses?

  • How will solutions enable our employees to have a meaningful impact?

Secondly, a sense of community is about organizational alignment around one truth, one view of the business, and a clear sense of both accountability and, most importantly, a common vision of the future.

And finally, career aspirations are enabled through meaningful work.  MBA’s hired in Finance can focus on analysis, partnering, opportunity development and are freed from non-value-added spreadsheet analysis and endless reconciliations.  CFO’s will be viewed as partners to the CEO and other C-level roles and make meaningful impacts on overall company success.


How CFOs perceive value

CFOs look at the importance of any business imperative within the overall framework of value; that value is typically considered in both qualitative terms as well as the more obvious quantitative perspective. It’s important to keep in mind what CFOs hear when we talk “value”.

  • Value (noun) - the importance, worth, or usefulness of something[1]

Importance (business imperative)

  • Strategic importance. Competitive edge, business model invention/reinvention.

  • Operational importance. Efficiency, effectiveness, customer experience

  • Financial importance. Making money work more effectively.

Worth (quantitative)

  • Cost vs benefits.

  • Hidden costs – often ignored.

  • Real cost of solutions vs perceived costs.

  • Investment and ROI. Ensuring projects will pay dividends

  • Opportunity costs. Where else can the CFO invest the money?

  • Cost of doing nothing. Surprisingly perhaps, doing nothing does not equate to costing nothing! The ‘do-nothing’ option, i.e., maintaining the status quo, is usually the most expensive option in the long run, with the ultimate cost being extinction

Usefulness (qualitative)

  • Business insight - executing the strategy smoothly

  • Agility – responding, reacting to unexpected pressures, challenges, risks

  • Employee engagement – happy workers are effective workers

  • Customer experience – happy customers buy more

  • Keeping the regulatory dogs at bay – “… nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes” - Benjamin Franklin

Call to Action

SAP S/4HANA provides unique opportunities to have meaningful impacts to your business, to build long-term business relationships, and to create opportunity, but it begins with understanding the most important aspects of value and how we can accomplish our strategic objectives.

The SAP Finance Value Advisors are here to help you develop your strategy through mentoring, art-of-the-possible workshops, thought leadership, value case development, and a variety of other activities.

Follow SAP Finance online: @SAPFinance (Twitter)  | LinkedIn | Facebook | YouTube

[1] From the Oxford English Dictionary