When a company opts to recruit a finance leader from the “outside world,” it’s not uncommon these days for the future CFO to first serve in a provisional role—one that can provide a wide view of the business while allocating a little extra time for on-the-job learning.
So it was for Constance Minc, a veteran investment banker who logged 12 months as head of business operations for IFS before entering the ERP vendor’s CFO office last May.
According to Minc, her 12-month stint in operations was as much about building bridges as it was about learning. “I was able to build trust with our key business stakeholders and create a bridge between the business and finance that has enabled us to transform finance,” she explains, while also noting that she used her stint in operations to develop a three-year business plan that now serves as her road map as IFS CFO.
“This helped me to understand how our customer strategy needed to evolve and allowed me to build the business model with the business,” says Minc, who also spent time evaluating “the inputs” being used by IFS to formulate its forecasts. “We wanted to make certain that the numbers were driven by very concrete and business-driven inputs,” she adds. Asked about her priorities as a finance leader going forward, Minc emphasized the importance of aligning the organization with a standard set of finance principles, optimizing business process efficiencies, and fostering trust with all business stakeholders. –Jack Sweeney
Guest: Constance Minc
CFOTL: What are your top-of-mind numbers and metrics?
Minc: We’ve been growing really fast over the past year. Just looking at the first of the year on the license revenue, we see that we grew almost 50%. Tracking all of the earnings and how you’re performing versus last year is key. Second-year profitability is absolutely key to me to make sure that we are not driving the top line at the expense of the bottom line. Making sure that we’re constantly becoming more efficient and increasing our profitability is a priority, as well as the cash flows. It can’t be at the expense of the cash flow. We need to make sure that we have a very healthy and strong liquidity profile. But when we look at these metrics, what’s important to me is to make sure that we look at them on a dynamic basis, not as static numbers. It’s all relative to last year, relative to internal targets, looking backward at what we actually saw.
But even more important, I think about what our forecast is. That’s probably the first thing that I look at when I wake up—how our forecast for the full year is evolving from one month to the next. I think that, overall, the forecasting has greatly improved, and this comes from the cooperation between business and finance. I think that the forecast for a long time was a pure finance exercise, when it should effectively be a business tool. We’re now connecting the forecast to the reality of what the business is and helping my team to connect with the sales function and the customer-facing teams that we have to ensure that all of the inputs are not pure numbers but closely connected to the reality of the business—this has increased the transparency and accuracy of the numbers that we get. We have changed a lot over the past year. I think that IFS has shifted gears in a way and is now making sure that we don’t lose track of or become out of touch with our customers. I believe and am making sure that we are going in the right direction—and not losing anyone along that path is key for all of the senior management within the company.