Asked and Answered– 10 Questions every CFO Should Be Asking Their Controller

Asked And Answered– 10 Questions Every CFO Should Be Asking Their Controller

In the world of the CFO, there is one constant amid all the changes. The CFO must always be ready to lead and manage a successful finance team. In order to be successful, the CFO needs to collaborate closely with the Controller to define and implement financial strategies that can be supported through financial operations.

Learn the ten questions you should be asking your Controller to establish best practices and project and plan for the future growth of your organization.

  1. How many manual journal entries are we making during the close process?

Any excess amount of manual entries needlessly extend a closing period and can be an indicator of other problems.

  1. Have you reviewed compliance with local jurisdictions?

The Controller has a direct role in virtually all financial transactions that flow through the accounting structure, so they must know what risks the company is exposed to and ensure that risk exposure is minimized.

  1. How long does it take us to close the books. What is holding things up?

The efficiency, accuracy, and time to close is the best indicator of Controller efficiency. This is also one of the best ways to determine if your system is efficient and effective and if your Controller is efficient and effective in their role.

  1. Show me everything we are doing in Excel. Why are we using Excel?

Excel is a great invention, but It is also hard for groups of people to use it together. Unfortunately, it is also easy to make mistakes and often hard to find the errors. Excel is also very insecure. With security breaches happening all the time, you should be moving to a more secure solution. The best way to use Excel is to prototype new processes rapidly. Once a process is stable for three months, it’s time to move to a collaborative, automated, secure enterprise system and off of Excel.

  1. Do we have one integrated system for both our financial information and our operating metrics?

You have probably heard the saying, “ there are facts, and there are true facts.” If you have two or more reporting systems, you will spend unproductive time reconciling differences and untangling conflicting definitions. You need a single source of truth that you can count on every time.

  1. Why do we have so many reports?

It is not uncommon for financial departments to distribute hundreds of periodic reports. Many of the people who initially requested the reports move on and are no longer employed. Often the accounting team has no idea who, if anyone, is reading them or whether the reports are still valuable. Online reporting that staff can access in a self-serve manner quickly identifies which reports are used and which are no longer valuable or needed.

  1. Who has access to what functionality in the accounting system, how is this documented, and who approves changes?

A single administrator should control the system and make changes according to a documented approval process. If you do not have such a process, you need to prioritize upgrading your access process.

  1. What is the volume of transactions in our department, how many invoices are there, and how many vendor payments? 

This detailed information helps to plan staffing levels. It also demonstrates improved efficiency and quality over time.

  1. How many sales orders or invoices are canceled and rebilled, and what are the primary causes of such events?

If you see a large number of transactions or large dollar volume or both, it’s a clear sign you have a poorly designed system, and you need to fix it immediately.

  1. Where should we invest our next dollar in the finance department?

Prioritize the problem areas and focus your resources where they are most needed. Look at Staffing, training, automation, integration, and process redesign. Use the latest cloud technology tools such as Sage Intacct to simplify, standardize, centralize, and automate your processes.

These ten questions will give you a good idea of how effective, accurate, and efficient your accounting system and finance department is. It will help you identify problem areas, establish best practices, what is working well, alert you to potential security risks and financial risks and help you strategize for organizational growth. These questions are not frivolous. They are vital in leading and managing a successful finance team.

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