Job Swapping and Career Development

As a middle market CFO, one aspect of my past experience at large corporations that I miss is the ability to develop talent throughout the accounting and finance team through job swapping and promoting from within.  In fast growing middle market businesses, there is ample opportunity for career development, but it stems from the growth of the company and the need for each person to wear multiple hats.  In larger corporations, you need to rotate people through different positions to diversify their skills, improve operations and prevent boredom.  In middle market companies, it’s not as easy or as necessary, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it.

If there aren’t enough positions within your accounting and finance team to make it happen, consider temporary job swaps with other departments.   Your financial folks might bring a new perspective to the sales or operations divisions and vice versa.  It will promote better teamwork, develop your talent pool and keep people engaged, just like it does at large corporations.

Kickoff of Budget Season

The chill in the air, the smell of brats and burgers wafting through crowded parking lots, the excitement on the painted faces of rowdy fans… it can only mean one thing:  It’s time to kickoff Budget Season.

The quarterback sneak, the triple option, the end around, the hail mary and the punt – these are all moves managers make throughout the budget approval process with varying degrees of success.

What tools do you use for budgeting?  Do you rely solely on Excel spreadsheets or do you use a more sophisticated budgeting software such as Microsoft’s Management Reporter or do you use a hybrid approach such as Vena Software? The advantages of going beyond Excel include the ability to manage workflow throughout the process, to make your individual budgets more consistent and structurally secure and to roll them up easier for automatic visibility to the big picture.  Most companies start out using only Excel spreadsheets and eventually evolve to a more structured format.

Regardless of the software you use, your budget should typically include the following components:

(1)  A schedule of dates and deadlines that clearly spells out who is responsible for what and by when.

(2) Payroll by employee including open positions and additional headcounts – this schedule should roll forward into the budget to calculate labor costs and benefits and may also be used to allocate expenses between departments.

(3) Fixed Assets and Capital Expenditures – this schedule should roll forward to the P&L for depreciation and to the Balance Sheet/Cash Flow Statement for capital expenditures.

(4) Comparisons to current year and long term plan.

(5)  The aforementioned “Cash Flow Statement” should be part of your budget.

I have to get on a plane now.  What other components should be built into a good budget?

Follow Up on Social Media Metrics

PrintA few weeks ago I posted an entry titled “Do Social Media KPI’s belong on the Management Dashboard?”  As a follow up, I refer to a recent post on the Gooddata blog that highlights six key marketing metrics to track and report.

They list them in the infographic to the left.  A few of the key KPI’s they list include:

  • Engagement: Not just the number of followers or friends, but how much engagement are you getting in terms of the number of shares, likes and comments.
  • Conversion Rate: Not just the number of visitors to your website, but the rate at which the visits are converted to sales.
  • Click Through: Not the number of emails you sent out, but the number that responded to the emails by clicking through to the website.
  • Cost per Customer: Not cost per click or cost per lead but cost per customer, or better yet, cost per dollar of sales.

In addition to picking the correct social media KPI’s, as with all KPI’s, it is important to report them on a consistent basis and track the results over time compared to targets.

Your Company Is Only as Good as Your Writing

HBRAn article from the Harvard Business Review on the importance of good technical writing skills and why it should be a company-wide endeavor.  It even comes with a complete handbook.  No time for all that?  Here’s the shorter version:

  • Know your subject matter & your audience
  • Be clear, concise and well-organized
  • A picture is worth a thousand words
  • Review your work, edit and omit needless words

Win a free registration in Excel University Vol 1 online training – a $399 value

excel_university_logo_100A few weeks ago I blogged about the Microsoft Excel tips I had learned at a meeting of the Los Angeles chapter of the Institute of Management Accountants.  The presenter at that meeting, Jeff Lenning of Click Consulting, just notified me they have converted the content of Excel University Volume 1 into an interactive, self-paced training format, and it is now available through their online learning management system (LMS).  Click here for details.

The original blog entry was quite popular and generated many comments on the blog and in various LinkedIn discussion groups as well as many clicks through to the Click Consulting website.  As a thank you, Click Consulting has offered me the opportunity to give away one free enrollment in the new Excel University Vol 1 online training, a $399 value (currently on sale for $299).  To enter, simply join the LinkedIn Discussion Group “Middle Market CFO” on or before 7/31/13.  One member of that group will be chosen at random on 8/1/13 and the winner will be announced right there, in the Middle Market CFO discussion group on LinkedIn.  Good luck!

The National Center for the Middle Market’s 2013 Q2 Middle Market Indicator

d6arbkvd9cf095iaaq9o_biggerDespite sluggish M&A activity, the National Center for the Middle Market’s 2013 Q2 Middle Market Indicator report shows solid growth with optimism and hiring on the upswing.  For the full report, click the link below:

2q_13_mmi

How the CFO Can Become the CEO’s Collaborator in Growth

How the CFO Can Become the CEO’s Collaborator in Growth

Great article by Robert Sher in CFO magazine about how CFO’s at fast growing middle market companies should spend less time on accounting and more time building the leadership infrastructure to allow the firm to scale.  For the full article, click here.