For those of you who have been following the thought leaders in the space, you know that Robert Rudzki has been advocating that the key to your success is to Speak Like a CFO (Part I and Part II) for quite some time now. The reason? It’s often the fastest way to gain respect in a C-Suite that runs on financial metrics.
However, thanks to the jobless recovery, it might also be the fastest way for you to get ahead. As per this recent article in CFO Magazine on the incredible shrinking finance department, a combination of increasing automation, new business models, and offshoring has pushed down the average size of a finance staff by 30% over the past six years (according to The Hackett Group). Furthermore, as CFO’s are more concerned about how can I save my company than how many jobs can I save, the jobs that went away, usually to offshore locations, aren’t likely to come back to the states — ever. As a result, the majority of CFOs (75%) plan to keep domestic finance head count steady in 2011 (while only 15% plan to hire).
This means that Finance departments are going to continue to be lean, mean, and as overworked as anyone else in the organization. So when you come to them with a great proposal that’s in your language and not theirs, it’s yet another report they have to analyze and do a cost-benefit analysis on before they can judge how good your proposal is relative to the dozens of other proposals on their desk that require the same sort of analysis on which to make a decision. A task that they just don’t have a lot of time for.
But if you come to them with a proposal in their language, with all of the ROX (ROI, ROIC, and ROE) metrics, the impact on cash-flow, the internalized rates of return, and the cost of delaying the decision on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis, all of sudden your proposal (assuming it does have a significant return) becomes many times more attractive than everyone else’s. They not only see the value immediately, but they see that you are trying to help them accomplish their goal of saving the company by insuring that it doesn’t spend more than it can afford to in this tough economic climate.
So learn the language of the CFO. It might just make you the organizational superstar you know you can be.