Playing Defense

CFOs of defense contractors are preparing their companies for a new era of austerity at the Pentagon. Read the full article written by Russ Banham here.

Cities on the Brink

Municipal finance chiefs are fighting to keep their troubled cities solvent. Sometimes it’s a losing battle.

Prior to its incorporation in 1850, Stockton, Calif., was known as Fat City, and later Mudville. Prophetically, its financial fortunes followed this progression in names from boom to bust. Stockton filed for bankruptcy in 2012, and until Detroit went bankrupt earlier this year, it had the dubious distinction of being the largest city in the country to seek Chapter 9 protection. The cities are two of 12 other municipalities that have petitioned for bankruptcy protection since 2008, among them Jefferson County, Alabama; Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; and Vallejo, California. Eight of these filings occurred in the last three years.


May the Field Be with You

Cloud-based applications are pushing out planning and forecasting to workers in the farthest reaches of the company.

Simplifying the decision-making process is a fundamental goal for CFOs, given the competitive necessities of agility and speed. Unfortunately, many traditional planning, budgeting and forecasting systems see the business world as local and linear, not global and cooperative, frustrating this imperative.

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Failing—to Win

Make no mistake about it; no one likes to make a mistake. But admitting one’s failure and learning from it often provides for greater success in future. That’s the message from several CEOs who made well-informed decisions backed by solid research and due diligence that nonetheless failed miserably. Sure, their pride took a punch, but they came away from the knockdown tougher and smarter for the next round.

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All Together Now

The convergence of social, mobile and cloud technologies —“SoMoClo”— is changing the way companies work.


No, it’s not the latest trendy neighborhood in New York City. “SoMoClo” is shorthand for a phenomenon that will have a lasting impact on business intelligence: the convergence of social media, mobile technologies and a cloud IT infrastructure.

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Lessons Learned: Before You Sign Off on a New Technology System, Who Will Support It?

Sit half a dozen chief financial officers from large organizations in a room. Ask them to take a deep breath, then say these words: “ERP implementation.” Now run for cover.

Despite the backbone utility of enterprise resource planning systems, which seamlessly facilitate the flow of internal and external information between business functions, the significant process changes required are a headache in the making. Add to this the eye-popping costs and the risk of a security breach and it is no wonder why more than one CFO has lost his or her job in the post-implementation dustup.

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Still Not Working

CFO logoConfronted with shrinking revenue during the Great Recession, many U.S. companies made what seemed to be lasting improvements in their management of working capital. But today it appears that the improvements were simply a short-term fix.

That conclusion can be drawn from the findings of the latest working capital survey by REL Consulting. For the second straight year, REL’s annual survey of 1,000 large public U.S. companies reveals a pronounced lack of sustained working capital improvement.

Read the rest of the article at CFO. 

Healing the CFO-CIO Rift

Not long ago, CFOs and CIOs were a breed apart. The former thought and talked in the language of dollars and cents; the latter thought and talked in bits and bytes. A conversation between the two was like a bad “speed dating” encounter.

This is a bit of an exaggeration, but clearly the relationship between these two senior executive leaders was uncomfortable at best. Flash forward to today, and something has changed. For one thing, more CIOs now report up to CFO, rather than to Chief Executive. This has put some pressure on the two roles to smooth out their differences.

But, something else also is afoot. The advent of mobile business apps integrated to back end ERP systems or cloud-based finance, CRM and HRMS systems is altering the IT paradigm and, by extension, transforming the role of the CIO. No longer do companies want CIOs to focus exclusively on managing IT–implementing, maintaining and upgrading expensive on-premises systems, in addition to making them better, cheaper and faster. They want the CIO to be a strategy innovator.

Just like the CFO a generation ago moved from the back office to the front office, CIOs are being invited to grab a seat there, as well. At this strategy table the conversation is flowing—how can we take full advantage of business apps and mange the related risks, where best can we deploy our scant IT resources for marketing purposes, and is there a tool that can make demand forecasting more robust to improve planning?

Dollars and cents and bits and bytes are giving way to strategic discussions predicated on driving profitable business growth.

This is a best-case scenario, of course. And it requires that CIOs and CFOs simply get along better. Each must find ways of speaking the same language—CFOs getting in touch with their inner CIO and vice versa.

Interestingly, the complex technology and sophisticated finance that initially separated these two leaders due to their numbing nuances have been made simpler by, of all things, technology. Ten years from now, who knows? CFOs and CIOs—those strange bedfellows—just might be best pals.

Appraising Performance Appraisals

Providing employees with consistent, effective feedback is what often distinguishes good from great CEOs. Appraisals may, in fact, be a CEO’s most potent tool in aligning people and improving effectiveness. So why do most CEOs hate doing it and why is it done so poorly by so many of us?

We broke the process down and spoke with top-performing CEOs and companies of various sizes, including two of Chief Executive magazine’s CEOs of the Year, to help you improve your appraisal process and become an effective coach.

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Weathering the Weather (CFO)

CFO logoIn the face of extreme weather and natural disasters, companies are reengineering their supply chains for added reliability.

Since Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans in 2005, catastrophes like the massive floods in Thailand and Pakistan, a prolonged drought in the Southwestern United States, and the one-two punch of hurricanes Irene and Sandy seem to be occurring with more frequency, with expensive consequences for many companies.

Read the rest of the article at CFO.