We’ve covered quite a few organizational damnations to date. (Nine to be exact.) But, as with the other damnation categories, we’ve saved the best for last. Marketing was bad. Sales was often worse. Legal is a nightmare. But Finance. Finance controls the four horseman of the apocalypse. War, Famine, Pestilence, and Death — and they all fear the CFO. Because if he dies, then Death will forever have to listen to plans to increase productivity, decrease cost and profit from the dead. (Trust me, give former CFOs the opportunity and they’ll try.)
Finance brings War to the party.
Finance is not only the gatekeeper between the CEO and the various department heads but also the mediator between them, especially when there are budgetary disputes or strategic disputes in terms of corporate direction. That’s because money talks and Finance signs the checks. And if they decide that they don’t want to play mediator and problem solver and they want the department heads and/or CXOs to work it out, they can incite all out war, sit back, and see where the mortars fall. In the interim, Procurement is getting caught in the crossfire as every department makes contradictory requests and expects to get them fulfilled by Procurement.
Finance brings Pestilence to the party.
Finance has the ear of the CEO. As a result, they are always getting whispers from the COO, CMO, Chief Council, the VP of Sales, the VP of HR, and anyone else who runs a department. If any of them are making the CFO promises in terms of increased success, increased status, increased bonus, or, and yes this happens, lining in the pockets (direct or indirect kickbacks), your requests might fall on deaf ears. Marketing promises free trips to all of the global launch events. You promise an extra 10%, which may or may not materialize in the eyes of Finance, unlike those tickets to San Francisco, London, and Shanghai which can be in the CFOs hands as “guest speaker” tomorrow.
Finance brings Famine to the party.
Finance controls the budget. They determine how much money you get for talent, software, and services. Without enough money, you can’t get the talent; the talent in place can’t get the tools they need; and they definitely can’t get augmentation services or training, which they desperately need to do the job they are tasked to do. If Finance wants to bring Famine, they cut the budget, and your department starves. Famine is just one budget cut away.
Finance brings Death the party.
Not only can they starve you, cut you out, and subject you to contradictory requirements that you will be expected to unreasonably fulfill, but they can bring Death upon you. Unreasonable cost saving expectations. Unreachable metrics in terms of automated invoice processing or Spend Under Management in a mere 12 months. Impossible results from the supplier innovation program you are expected to launch. Followed by a pink slip when you don’t deliver (under the new mandatory right-sizing policy that cuts everyone who does not make their annual goals).
If the CFO doesn’t like the CPO or care for the Procurement department, the damnation that he can reign can exceed the damnation caused by all of the other departments combined.