When part-time CFO services are provided, the time spent on-site at the client can cover a variety of tasks. This depends on the services required by the specific client and the prioritization of what needs to be done. There is never really a typical day due to these variables, but the following provides a good overview of what a day in the life of a part-time CFO looks like.
Guided by the Initial Agreement
The part-time CFO’s initial efforts are guided by the services list agreed to at the pre-engagement assessment meeting and documented in the letter of engagement. This allows the CFO to hit the ground running and provides an appropriate set of expectations for the business owner.
Make the Business Owner the Top Priority
At the top of the list for every client visit is to schedule some time—even if it’s only 15 minutes—with the business owner. This is the most important relationship to build and maintain. The part-time CFO will summarize the status of each major task being addressed, noting specifically where he or she is in the process and if it will be completed as scheduled. Equally important is to review the service list agreed upon at the inception of the engagement and determine if other items need to be added based on anything discovered during task execution. The goal is to keep the owner fully informed of progress made and new tasks identified. It’s also important to gain agreement on whether the work being done is consistent with the short- and long-term goals of the company.
Next, Touch Base with the Influencers of Important Initiatives
It’s essential to touch base with all internal constituencies who are connected to the services being provided. Since optimizing cash flow is the primary goal of every engagement, the part-time CFO will typically review problem areas identified to ensure progress is being made to correct them. This can include accounts receivable aging schedules, stratification of slow paying customers and tactics to sell slow-moving inventory.
Other areas often addressed are related to increasing profitability and include sales-related activities, such as identifying and improving sales cycles and monitoring sales funnels and pipelines. Additional items to review include:
- Gross margins
- The drivers affecting margins (e.g., pricing, cost of products/services and manufacturing costs/overhead)
- Product mix
- New product development and innovation
Since profitability is negatively affected when companies don’t have the proper controls and procedures in place to manage operating expenses, the part-time CFO may need to dig deeper to uncover the sources of these problems and take corrective actions.
Finally, Drive Implementation to Generate Cash Flow
All of the activities noted above require the part-time CFO’s attention, some more so than others. The part-time CFO is uniquely qualified to direct these activities in collaboration with the company’s management team. The end result is the implementation of analytical tools, processes and infrastructure that results in an efficient, cash-generating enterprise that continues to improve the strength of its balance sheet and become more profitable.
Working together, the part-time CFO will help create a sustainable platform for the company to ensure it operates profitably. It’s the realization of that objective that makes providing part-time CFO services such a rewarding job.