Summary of The CFO as Business Integrator

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  • Overview
  • Concrete Examples


A cynic might be tempted to sneer at a book published by a major Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software vendor - specifically, SAP - urging CFOs to make better use of ERP. This software is intended to tie all business functions together in a commonly accessible bundle. Having overspent on this and other information technologies, many executives question its value. Indeed, a recent Harvard Business Review article carried in its title the blunt, provocative suggestion that, "IT Doesn’t Matter." Well, these authors believe it matters, because the IT processes and systems that the CFO supports directly affect the bottom line. The book offers valuable case histories, specific technological and managerial counsel, informative charts and candid input from executives. It covers the CFO’s perspective on integrating information technology processes into a company’s services, supply chains, culture and analytics. Each chapter ends with a useful "CFO Checklist." The cases are promotional and very tech-friendly, so read between the lines. This book is, after all, a marketing initiative. Still, finds the text specific, knowledgeable and worth reading.

About the Authors

Consultant Cedric Reid leads CCR Partners Ltd., whose clients have included Shell, BP, Diageo and GlaxoSmithKline. He serves as strategic advisor to SAP AG, and has written two books: CFO: Architect of the Corporations Future and eCFO: Sustaining Value in the New Corporation. Hans-Dieter Scheuermann is senior vice president of SAP’s General Business Unit Financials.



The CFO’s Priorities

During the craze, panicky executives invested heavily but not always carefully in technology. This left many companies burdened with "systems spaghetti," a tangled mess of poorly integrated technologies. Meanwhile, CFOs must deal with these pressing issues:

  • Transparency and trust - Recent corporate scandals have put a premium on accurate, clear communication to stakeholders. Legislation raised the bar of financial reporting standards and raised the stakes for CFOs who fail to clear the higher bar.
  • Return on investment (ROI) - Perhaps as an antidote to the wild technology spending of the epoch, shareholders and managers now demand that new technology investments deliver sure and speedy returns.
  • Simplicity - Businesses recognize that complexity is expensive and are attempting to simplify and consolidate.
  • Outsourcing and shared services.
  • Shareholder value.
  • Management and measurement of intangible value drivers.

Different companies express these priorities in different ways, but striking similarities exist across industries. Two industries more divergent than petrochemical and...

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