Why are KPIs Essential for CFOs?
Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are used to monitor different aspects of business performance. For them to be effective, they should be connected to the business strategy, measurable, and actionable. In a business world where improving efficiency is crucial for growth, tracking the KPIs of Chief Finance Officers (CFOs) is vital for evaluating performance and guiding decision-making.
Many companies still use manual methods like spreadsheets to track KPIs. However, there’s a global shift towards automation, even for non-financial KPIs. Automation can identify and continuously monitor KPIs, eliminating the need for manual tracking.
While there are numerous financial and non-financial indicators available, it’s essential not to overwhelm yourself. Select what you think are “significant metrics” and incorporate them into your weekly reporting routine. You can change these KPIs as your business priorities shift.
KPIs for CFOs in 2024
These can vary depending on the industry and specific goals of the organization. We’ve highlighted the following 10 KPIs for CFOs to monitor in 2024:
1. Leverage Using Automation and AI
Automation technologies offer a promising way forward for organizations facing staffing shortages and talent challenges. However, implementing large-scale automation often requires a significant initial investment. This poses a major challenge for controllers and CFOs as they look ahead to 2024 while trying to find cost-effective ways to drive automation.
There’s also concern about how automation might affect employees, especially those resistant to change. To address this, CFOs need to allocate extra resources to train and upskill employees.
AI is transforming the way finance teams operate. By using AI tools, businesses can manage big financial data, automate regular tasks, and extract insights for important decisions. As AI technology advances, it not only enhances existing processes but also prompts a reassessment of traditional financial roles. This results in the automation of routine tasks, freeing up human resources to concentrate on strategic endeavors.
For finance leaders, strategically deploying AI is crucial. This involves not only acquiring new AI tools but also seamlessly integrating them into the financial system. This integration should be supported by targeted training initiatives to elevate the workforce’s analytical skills to new levels.
2.Embrace of Remote and Hybrid Work Models for Productivity
The way we work is changing significantly as remote and hybrid work models become increasingly prevalent. Despite executives preferring a return to the office, employees are resisting. With the widespread hybrid and remote work options, CFOs will need to include extra expenses in 2024. These might include budget, such as allowances for office equipment, internet services, and technology investments.
This shift brings about a dynamic future of work, marked by flexibility and adaptability. This will reshape the traditional office paradigm of a fixed 9-to-5 schedule. Remote and hybrid work offer enhanced flexibility, allowing employees to structure their workday around their lives, and fostering better work-life balance.
These models also provide access to a global talent pool, enabling employers to recruit diverse and top-notch talent while reducing costs associated with commuting and office space. Increased productivity is often reported by employees working remotely due to fewer distractions and personalized workspaces. Analyzing employee productivity and the cost per employee helps CFOs assess workforce efficiency. This KPI is crucial for managing labor costs and optimizing staffing levels to maintain a balance between productivity and expenses.
3.AP and AR Turnover
CFOs must focus on the organization’s ability to efficiently convert credit sales into cash. One crucial metric to track is the Accounts Receivable turnover, which measures how often the business collects money owed to it each year. If this collection process is too infrequent, it can harm the company’s cash flow. Conversely, if it occurs too frequently, it might incur unnecessary costs and not allow sufficient time for debtors to make their payments. This CFO performance measure helps evaluate the adequacy of the collection process and guides decision-making for potential improvements.
Another vital KPI is the Accounts Payable turnover, which indicates how often the company pays vendors and other expenses throughout the year. This ratio provides insight into the cash your company uses to settle various payments and how it impacts overall cash flow. Monitoring this metric enables CFOs to assess and manage the company’s financial health concerning its payment processes.
4. Payment Error Rate
The payment error rate is a measure that indicates the proportion of payments made by debtors or to creditors that were not successfully processed due to errors in the system or human oversight. Examples of such errors include the absence of a purchase order reference, lack of payment approval, or missing related documents.
5. Working Capital
Efficiently overseeing working capital guarantees that organizations remain capable of meeting their immediate financial obligations. Working capital is determined by deducting current liabilities from current assets, encompassing resources like liquid cash, short-term investments, and accounts receivable.
6. SSOT to Resolve Diverse Data
In the upcoming 2024 budgeting season, success in the constantly changing business environment necessitates cohesive data that is readily available, practical, precise, and punctual. Attaining enhanced data accessibility calls for a strategic commitment to unified solutions capable of bolstering decision-making processes and enhancing organizational agility.
The process of phasing out outdated technology and substituting it with contemporary, cloud-based solutions entails substantial expenses. While these investments are sure to yield significant returns, it also poses a challenge, particularly given the prevailing economic uncertainty affecting both domestic and international organizations.
This is why establishing a Single Source of Truth (SSOT) can be crucial in addressing discrepancies in data. Inferior data results in inferior decision-making. Consequently, businesses embrace SSOT methodologies to obtain a holistic perspective of customer requirements and business ramifications. This empowers sales teams to adeptly grasp customer backgrounds and tackle challenges, even in the absence of follower data in typical datasets.
7. Monitor Current Ratio, Quick Ratio (Acid Test), and Debt-to-Equity Ratio
The current ratio evaluates a company‘s capability to meet short-term obligations by comparing its current assets (comprising cash, receivables, marketable securities, and inventory) to current liabilities (including debt and accounts payable).
The Quick Ratio/Acid Test KPI assesses a company’s liquidity in a more cautious manner than the current ratio. It excludes inventories from the total asset amount, providing a conservative measure of financial health.
The Debt – Equity Ratio measures how an organization is financing its growth and the efficiency of shareholder investments. A high ratio indicates a reliance on debt for growth. Monitoring these KPIs for CFO performance underscores the need to discuss financing strategies with the senior management team and shareholders.
8. Days to Close
This measure quantifies the duration necessary to finalize financial records and generate management reports at the conclusion of the fiscal year. With manual procedures, the time it takes to complete these closing cycles can vary, ranging from a single day for a small company to as much as 24 days for a larger enterprise. Finance departments that adhere to industry best practices and leverage automation for routine tasks can typically achieve a closing time of approximately 5-6 days. Additionally, this key performance indicator (KPI) is applicable for monitoring month-end closing cycles as well.
9. Outstanding Payment Duration and Outstanding Sales Duration
The Days Payable Outstanding (DPO) or Outstanding Payment Duration gauges the average duration your company takes to settle payments with creditors. It is crucial to monitor this metric to pinpoint potential bottlenecks in the payment process and identify the specific stage(s) where delays occur. If invoices are consistently held up during approval or matching stages, this KPI becomes instrumental in recognizing recurring issues. In cases where enhancements are necessary, your organization can strive to meet payment deadlines, and ideally, make early payments to capitalize on any available discounts.
Days Sales Outstanding (DSO) or Outstanding Sales Duration is utilized to approximate the average period for collecting sales. It serves as an indicator of how effectively your organization manages accounts receivables. Keeping a close eye on this KPI empowers your finance department to recognize persistent late-paying entities. This, in turn, aids decision-making by introducing incentives, such as discounts, to encourage prompt or early payments.
10. Strategize Against Staffing Deficits
Based on our recent survey on Corporate Finance & Accounting Talent, 68% of respondents face challenges in securing finance and accounting professionals for their organizations. As CFOs and controllers finalize their 2024 budgets, it is crucial for them to allocate sufficient resources to tackle persistent talent shortages and associated recruitment difficulties.
However, it is imperative that they avoid simply resorting to escalating salary offers in response to the problem. CFOs and controllers should adopt a well-rounded strategy, directing funds specifically towards initiatives such as upskilling, onboarding, training, and recruitment. Moreover, they need to actively contribute to cultivating a positive company culture and consider alternative retention incentives beyond salary increments. Examples include providing additional paid time off, enhancing benefits, and offering flexible work arrangements.
The indispensability of KPIs for CFOs cannot be overstated. These metrics play a vital role in evaluating performance and guiding strategic decision-making in a business landscape where efficiency is paramount for growth. As we approach 2024, CFOs face challenges with shift towards automation, encompassing both financial and non-financial KPIs. It is increasingly prevalent to enable continuous monitoring without the constraints of manual methods. In this complex landscape, CFOs must balance innovation with cost-effectiveness, leveraging technology and strategic approaches to navigate the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.