Why We Like to Play with Shiny Toys

Are these fads and fashions or the real deal? Are CFOs attracted to them as the shiny new toys they must have on their resume for their next bigger job and employer? My belief is these four “hot” managerial methods and tools are essential. But they need to be thought through and properly designed and customized; and not just slapped in willy-nilly just to have them as shiny new toys.

What are these “four hot tools”, you ask? Read on for insight by author Gary Cokins.

The Skeptical CFO

It came as a bit of a shock that some customers just weren’t going to pay you. For no good reason. I would ask if perhaps the delivery had been short, or was late, or something went wrong with the implementation, or they were trying to use it as leverage on another deal, or maybe they were having cash flow problems themselves. If so, we could work something out. No, it wasn’t any of those things, this was simply how they treated all their vendors, they’d pay us when they felt like it, or maybe they wouldn’t pay us at all.

The Soft Stuff is the Hard Stuff

Most of us are technical. We like to be fact-driven. We embrace technologies of all flavors, including computer hardware, software, mobile devices, the Internet and social media. We tolerate opinions of others that differ from ours, but we prefer tangible, hard evidence that supports any position or argument. The problem is that organizations are made up of people, not just computers and equipment.

We like research studies and analytics to gain insights and foresights, as well as to solve problems and pursue opportunities. But, darn it, people get in the way.

Paisa Vasool

When Indian consumers experience the perfect mix of quality and value, they will often say “Paisa vasool”—loosely, “I got my money’s worth.” It is the highest praise. Around the world, consumers are budget squeezed—skeptical of merchandisers and worried about the future. Paisa vasool can become the watchword to creating greater value, offering more features for less money, and attracting consumers who become your advocate. Paisa vasool implies high quality, a complete package that delivers value for money.

Are You a Rebel?

Organizations need more “champion” behavior from their middle managers. Linkedin discussion groups frequently chatter about poor guidance from executives. A recent discussion had many discussants moaning about their CFO function’s reluctance to implement activity-based costing (ABC) principles for lame reasons such as it would result in two different sets of product costs or that ABC is too complicated to implement. This is nonsense.

Riddle: How are Analytics Like a Mosquito in a Nudist Colony?

There are so many opportunities to apply analytics today- it’s like being a mosquito in a nudist colony.

There is a problem, however, that not everyone thinks or behaves like a mosquito. They do not always inherently sense opportunities – the opportunities to apply analytics.

Perhaps I stretch this mosquito analogy too far when I presume that many opportunities may have insect repellent applied to them. For example, let’s consider the high expectations of service at a five star hotel. Ever wait in a long line at your hotel check out during the morning rush with others checking out? It might not appear cost-justified to the hotel, but it may be a very valuable extra expense to add one or more front desk staff if you irritate an important and delayed social media influencer who will complain on Twitter or TripAdvisor.com. How would you know? It is an opportunity for an analyst’s experiment or survey. The insect repellant analogy implies that an analyst may not “sense” an opportunity.

The Higher You Are, The Less You Know

Executives may be brilliant strategists. But strategists need foot soldiers to carry out tasks. The higher the executives are, the less they can know about what is happening. Yes, there can be summarized reporting and executive scorecards and dashboards. But monitoring the dials is not the same thing as moving the dials.

What strategies are most useful as performance improvement levers?

Finance. Turbocharged.

Only 5% of respondents say their Finance organization is delivering Game Changing Value today? What’s that about? Please visit http://www.apqc.org/knowledge-base/documents/financial-planning-and-analysis-urgent-need-new-skills-2012-october-fm-comm to receive (free) access to the October 17 presentation. A new research paper prepared by APQC and EPM Channel argues that CFOs must now double-down on their investments in finance team training and development. The sense of urgency stems…

What’s the Biggest Barrier Finance Needs to Overcome?

Only 5% of respondents say their Finance organization is delivering Game Changing Value today? But, 42% say there’s potential to deliver game-changing value. What’s that about? Find out.  www2.apqc.org/l/4922/2012-09-19/bb7f9 A study conducted by APQC and EPM Channel argues that CFOs must now double-down on their investments in finance team training and development. The sense of urgency stems…

Overcoming the Unwritten Rules of Budgeting

What Rules?

We all have personal ‘rules’ and beliefs that direct the things we do and how we respond to situations. Many of these rules are ‘unwritten’ – that is we follow them religiously even though they are neither compulsory nor explicit company policy. We do them because we do, quite often without thought as to their origins or whether they actually make sense.