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CFO 2017 Goals

The results are in! The annual Kaufman Hall CFO survey demonstrates the changing and expanding role of data in financial management. This survey asked almost 400 finance executives to share their goals and top concerns for the coming year – Here is what they found:

CFOs want to make a big impact on their corporate operations. More than 70% of the executives surveyed said supporting decision-making is their top goal; which is a break from the usual accounting roles. More than 90% said they need to better leverage financial and operations information to support executive decision making.

The overwhelming majority of data being sought is management-level (75%) and operational (67%). This focus on data driven decision-making is a departure from more traditional CFO concerns relating only to financial management.

“CFOs want to make a bigger impact on operations across the board,” said Abe Cohen, vice president of marketing at Kaufman Hall. “The data is supporting the notion that CFOs are transforming into business advisers.”

Agility is another top 2017 priority. Less than 23% of respondents were very confident about their company’s ability to maneuver past unforeseen business obstacles. The main reason for their lack of confidence -- outdated financial planning and analysis tools and processes.

The move to rolling forecasts has mitigated some risk. According to the survey, thirty-eight percent of respondents say their company now uses rolling forecasts, up from 33% at this same period last year, and 25% in 2014.

CFOs said they need the ability to pull data from multiple sources into a single report, which would greatly increase productivity. They also want better processes to mine data and improve dashboards and visualizations.

Data-driven decisions and overall management support from CFOs is clearly a growing trend. Data can help optimize business performance through visibility into operations, more insightful analysis, and more rigorous fact-based decision making.