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June 17, 2021 | Human Resources | Posted by Brandon Grinwis, Chief Financial Officer at Ascentis

How HR Teams Can Put Hours Back on a CFO’s Calendar

Being good with numbers is pretty much a necessity for a CFO, but there’s a big difference between crunching budgets and managing time. The complexities of an average organization’s financial operations means that CFOs often end up spending too much of their time on tasks that don’t make the best use of their talents. In fact, a 2019 study found that the average CFO loses as much as a day a week to tasks that don’t use their skills effectively. The same study determined that only 22% of CFOs were effective in their roles.

Those are worrisome statistics for both financial professionals and for anybody who relies on their expertise to keep the workplace running smoothly (nearly everybody, in other words). Fortunately, there are a number of areas where human resources and workforce management teams can help to give CFOs more time to do their jobs more effectively and efficiently.

  • Increased Automation: It may seem like fairly basic advice, but investing in more automation for a CFO's day-to-day tasks can save an organization a lot of time and money. The most obvious benefit of a technological upgrade is that automated processes simply take less time than manual ones. In a field like finance, where meticulous data entry and extensive recordkeeping are essential everyday functions, automating as many steps as possible is a tremendous time-saver. Reducing tedious, time-consuming tasks is not the only way timekeeping software can benefit your financial team, however.
  • Reduced Errors: Financial errors are a headache on a number of fronts, starting with detecting them in the first place. Studies show that random auditing samples are 200% less effective at catching mistakes than automated software scans, and also take a lot more time to run. Once those errors are detected, doing damage control and making corrections only eats up more time, leaving your financial team to spend far more hours cleaning up errors than if they had been able to catch them at the outset.
  • Improved Compliance: Ensuring compliance with financial regulations is a big part of the job for most CFOs, and it isn’t always an easy one. Just keeping track of all of the federal, state, and local laws that apply to your organization can be a challenge in its own right, and doubly so for companies with operations in multiple states or countries. Business and financial laws can change drastically depending on political administrations. In industries with organized labor, keeping on top of union requirements adds yet another layer. The bottom line is that staying fully compliant and avoiding the fines and loss of reputation that come with violations is simply too much to manage by hand.
  • Eliminating Fraud: Reports show that resolving various kinds of payroll fraud costs businesses around $63,000 per case. That’s a high price tag by anyone’s standards, and that doesn’t even factor in the time those businesses spend tracking down those cases of fraud. One of the reasons payroll fraud remains so prevalent in the workforce is that it’s often difficult to detect. Catching employees engaging in fraudulent activities like buddy-punching, altering timesheets, and just plain misreporting hours often takes a concerted effort and the kind of time that few financial teams can afford to dedicate to stopping bad behavior, especially if they don’t know for sure whether or not there is legitimate fraud involved.

Priority-based Scheduling

Everybody wants a piece of the CFO’s time. When you’re closely involved in setting the budgets that make a business run, it can be all too easy to get pulled into endless meetings and conversations that make it hard to get to the tasks that really matter. Allowing your CFO to build their schedule based on their own personal priorities can go a long way toward freeing up valuable hours and making sure that everyone in the organization is making efficient and effective use of your finance professionals’ time.

Consolidate Data

Financial operations involve a whole lot of information, both incoming and outgoing. Keeping track of everything from employee’s personal data to time and attendance tracking to compliance reports is hugely time-consuming, and that isn’t even taking into account all of the reports and records created with all of that data. As data analysis has evolved rapidly in the internet era, operations that used to be handled with paper spreadsheets and filing cabinets have become far too complex for those outdated methods. In a field where keeping data organized and accessible could be a full-time job in itself, there is no excuse for not investing in tools that consolidate that information into a single location.

No matter what industry you’re operating in, you can be sure that CFOs have more than enough on their plate in any given workweek. As important as financial operations are to your business, it just makes sense to make financial management as easy and time-efficient as possible. Investing in a reliable, easy-to-use HR dashboard from Ascentis can help put time back on your CFO’s calendar and keep your finances running smoothly and accurately.

Brandon joined the Ascentis executive team in 2019. He brings more than 15 years of leadership in driving growth, efficiencies and profitability at high-performing technology companies. As CFO at Ascentis, Brandon is charged with managing financial operations to support the company’s growth as well as leading the finance and accounting departments. Before joining Ascentis, Brandon was Vice President of Finance & Business Operations at Code42, a fast growing global enterprise SaaS provider of data security technology. Brandon has held financial leadership positions at Digital River and Lawson Software, two other high growth, Software-as-a-Service based businesses.” Brandon received a B.A. degree from Ohio University and a master’s degree from Notre Dame.