Tag Archives: controller

When to Add a CFO

From the Ask Tom mailbag –

Our company is thinking about adding a CFO to manage our accounting. We are growing. At what point do we need a CFO?

As companies grow, this is the normal maturation of the most important administrative function, keeping track of the money. (DROOM – Don’t ever run out of money).

When I look at levels of work in accounting, here are some of my guidelines.
S-I (1 day to 3 months timespan). This is all the transactional stuff, vouching invoices to be paid, creating invoices to customers, data entry of timecards, materials to work-in-process. This would also include reconciliation of transaction documents to transaction schedules (as entered).

S-II (3 months to 12 months timespan). These are higher order transaction functions, like payroll (especially payroll with a 401k plan). Also longer period reconciliation routines like monthly bank recs or monthly credit card reconciliations, routine journal entries. High S-II approaches that of a full charge bookkeeper.

S-III (1 year to 2 years). Emerging (low) S-III would be a full charge bookkeeper, where transaction activities have impact on the EOY (end of year) compiled financials (this requires a minimum 13 month timespan). This level also creates the transaction systems to record depreciation entries, simple inventory management, over and under billings to WIP. This would include job cost systems where project accounting likely survives a fiscal year. Hi-S-III would be a controller level.

S-IV (2 years to 5 years). This is an integration role (CFO) which would include software and accounting administration of more complex transaction activity, like bill of materials inventory management, complex work-in-process, enterprise software integration. S-IV would be accountable for modeling cash flow based on 36 month trailing stats overlaid to macro-economic trends to determine credit facilities (lines of credit, term loans) to cross periods of economic contraction. Analysis at this level would provide financial coaching to S-III department managers related to metrics of labor, materials, consumables, capital equipment, short and long term budgeting.