Voice of the CFO: Looking beyond the books

Chief Financial Officers (CFOs) who are positioning their companies to scale to the next level have their optimization work ahead of them.

Dennis SchumacherCFO at coal firesaid he and his team added automation by considering how the company’s employees work and how much real estate they need to do it, and to analyze potential impacts of the changing macroeconomic environment.

Schumacher joined the cybersecurity company in December 2021 and brought over 25 years of experience in various positions in finance, accounting, mergers and acquisitions (M&A) and operational leadership in IT companies. He was tasked with positioning the 20-year-old Coalfire for the next level of success.

“I was asked to look at the operating environment and the tech stack and the ability to do some sort of cross-functional work to prepare Coalfire for the ability to scale to each of the next tiers – half a billion, a billion and beyond” , said Schumacher. “So that’s what takes up most of my day.”

Focus on value creation

In an interview for the PYMNTS series, “A Day in the Life of a Digital-First CFO,” Schumacher said the company launched a new enterprise resource planning (ERP) system with Workday in January and is continuing to execute on its automation roadmap .

With these upgrades, Schumacher said, “our back-office resources are focused on adding value and adding value to the business, not just spending time doing many hours of duplicate work on something that can be automated from a reporting perspective .”

This automation also helps with employee retention during the Great Retirement, as it allows the company to keep them busy and do challenging work instead of manual work, he said.

See also: Engagement keys to taming the “great resignation” of finance teams

“This value pillar is very important to us externally, but we also have to do it for our resources so that we can maintain top-class resources both in customer contact and in the back office,” said Schumacher.

be more efficient

Another part of Coalfire’s modernization is an ongoing effort to eliminate paper controls. The company still receives some, Schumacher said, adding that checks add complexity to the environment and add at least four or five days to the process of receiving payments.

“I think the more efficient that is, it takes the pressure off a CFO’s environment and in turn allows the team to focus on creating value and not chasing checks and trying to deposit them to make cash flow work,” Schumacher said.

Related: 5 Best Practices for Digitizing Payables and Receivables

It also saves customers a lot of headaches because the check can no longer get lost or sit in a safe deposit box for weeks because the recipient wasn’t in the office.

“It also reduces rework on their side,” Schumacher said. “So obviously, being more efficient for you and your customers is the end goal.”

Reflections on a “New World of the Office”

Like many companies, Coalfire is considering optimizing its working model and office space. The company maintains a hybrid work model for its more than 1,000 employees and maintains physical premises in seven different cities.

The company is considering condensing its real estate space, moving it to either a short-term or a flexible space that will be used for meetings and collaboration, rather than being used five days a week.

“It’s more of a ‘new world office environment’, if you will, where you could have clients and client meetings in one room, and you could work together in another room to solve different problems, and different leaders in those rooms come to advance different agendas,” said Schumacher.

look at the economy

Schumacher said the current economic climate is affecting everyone because it may cause CFOs at other companies to re-examine how they spend their dollars and reconsider what spending is “must have” and what is discretionary.

In the case of Coalfire, Schumacher said there’s a lot the company can do to help customers prepare for different types of audits, work on their cybersecurity, and make their environment more efficient and automated.

“I think some of that will shift from more discretionary to more ‘must have’ as the environment itself becomes more complex,” Schumacher said.

Like any company today, Coalfire trains its employees to understand the security landscape, to know that the complexity of cybersecurity threats continues to increase, and to recognize that they have a fiduciary responsibility to the company not to introduce these types of threats.

“It will become fundamental to other core educations that resources must act responsibly for their own businesses in today’s environment,” Schumacher said.

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Around: More than half of utility and consumer finance companies are able to process all monthly bill payments digitally. The kicker? Only 12% of them do this. The Digital Payments Edge, a collaboration between PYMNTS and ACI Worldwide, surveyed 207 billing and collections professionals at these companies to learn why full digitalization remains elusive.

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