As a modern CFO, you get to reap the benefits of unprecedented access to data. But it’s up to you to use it to its fullest potential.
Christian Lee, CFO of Transfix, a leading freight marketplace connecting shippers to a national network of reliable carriers, emphasises moving quickly:
‘My own personal observation and sense is that the most dangerous thing is analysing things for months at a time, because by the time you’ve made the decision, things have moved on and changed’.
Recently, we interviewed Christian on The CFO Playbook podcast, where he shared his best advice for leveraging real-time data at a hyper-growth company.
With the abundance of data available in the world today, you need to make sure it’s organised, accessible, and protected.
Christian underlines data hygiene of one of the top priorities of a business:
‘If you don’t have a very structured approach to data warehousing, to definitions, to all of these things, then it can be more confusing than it is helpful. And so [as a CFO] you have to be, every day, focused on that.’
Don’t let your team get overwhelmed by data, stay ahead of it by investing in its maintenance.
Great CFOs encourage their finance teams to partner with other areas of the business.
Christian calls working with the data science team the most fun part of what he gets to do on a daily basis:
‘You can start to run AB tests, see what works, what doesn’t, and you can really partner between data science, the operations team, and the finance team to say, this is what we’re seeing.’
Not only is this partnership helpful for transparency, leaning on the specialties of other business units helps drive insights. It also leads to more innovation.
With a range of new tools available, finance teams increasingly have access to real-time data and dashboards. But being on the same page is just the baseline in a modern business.
Christian says that this kind of transparency is invaluable, but the key is to use the information as a launching pad for problem solving:
‘[Data] doesn’t solve any problems for you. It just makes the problems easier to talk about and solve because you have a baseline there and then you can apply all of the judgement.’
When your team is informed, you can begin to ask the strategic questions that help to nurture company growth.
At a fast-paced company, you need to assess the real-time information you have at hand and act deliberately but quickly.
When faced with a strategic decision with downstream impacts, Christian stresses:
‘Get 60% to 70% of the information you need to make the decision. Evaluate it. If it’s wrong, then change it later.’
By acting with as much intel as you can, but not wasting valuable time wringing your hands, you can keep up momentum.
The immense amount of data that is generated by almost every business function these days present modern CFOs with a unique opportunity.
By leveraging these insights, they can play a more strategic role than before and supercharge business growth.
Lay the groundwork by investing in data hygiene practices that will strengthen your data’s integrity, technology that will gather more data points, and data scientists that allow you to use your data to its full potential.
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