In addition to performing their traditional financial reporting roles, today’s financial executives are more than ever required to play the business partnering role and help CEOs create and execute strategy successfully.

As the business environment continues to increasingly become volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous (VUCA), finance executives must play a critical role in shaping the future of their organizations. Instead of being reactive at all times, they should rather become proactive, anticipate changes and seize opportunities that come along.

In order to successfully play the business partnering role, finance executives should see the bigger picture, move beyond the walls of traditional finance and involve themselves in the operations of the business.

This means moving beyond managing by financial statements and throwing themselves into the playing field. Engaging with marketing, sales, operations and other facets of the business.

Rather than focus on the short term performance of the business, strategic finance executives must also consider the long term and be interested in things that are happening outside their company, industry and country.

Are you able to look beyond the day-to-day work and really see other opportunities? Having this ability to see beyond daily responsibilities helps you identify any wastage of time and resources as well as existing unimportant goals.

CFOs who want to look at the bigger picture should therefore explore the future, look back at the past and learn from it and shift their attention beyond their companies, market and country.

Exploring the future helps you identify opportunities and risks and their implications. For example, you will be able to determine:

  • The impact of current trends on business performance should they continue.
  • The implications of current assumptions if they are wrong.
  • Whether you will be able to survive or not should your existing market disappears.
  • Implications of emerging risks on business performance and survival.

At the same time, looking backwards at where you are coming from also helps shape your company’s future. For example, by reviewing your past you will be able to:

  • Identify the company’s previous success areas and determine if these are sustainable.
  • Examine which strategies have worked previously and those that have failed.
  • Evaluate projects that have previously been carried out, whether they were successful and reasons for failure.
  • Identify what lessons have been learned and those that need to be unlearned.

By shifting their attention beyond the walls of their companies, finance executives will be able to:

  • Identify the fastest-growing trends in the world, for example big data, social media, cloud technology etc.
  • Evaluate the impact of social changes on business performance.
  • Determine competitor activities and their implications.
  • Determine new ways of conducting business and dealing with stakeholders.
  • Benchmark your performance against the best performers.
  • Establish what is being said about your company, products and industry.

Seeing at the bigger picture is about looking carefully at events and possibilities, imagine different scenarios, learn how these scenarios are likely to impact your organization’s existing and future business plans and develop effective strategies capable of shaping the uncertain future.

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