How CFOs can drive Business Productivity in 2021

Justin Flitter
September 2021

Recent research from global management and consulting firm, McKinsey & Company, found that in the last economic crisis, the most resilient companies looked to productivity improvements. This in turn created the capacity for growth during recovery. These companies outperformed their competitors and reduced operating costs, because they moved much earlier than other players in their market.

The COVID-19 health crisis has seen many industries financially impacted in ways no one could have ever predicted. Fortunately, there are ways that CFO’s in any market can help drive business productivity and keep teams running efficiently in 2021. Here are our top three CFO tips for productive businesses.

CFO tips for productive businesses #1:
Fix unproductive and inefficient meetings.

Badly run meetings cost businesses worldwide billions of dollars a year. Billions. More often than not, it’s because your best people are spending time on inefficient meetings that are eating up large chunks of time, without driving your business forward. Remote work adding back-to-back video calls into the mix is only exacerbating the problem.

Spending an hour in a meeting might not seem like much, but it doesn’t take long before this time starts to add up and affect your balance sheet.

Say for example your headcount costs an average of $50 p/h. If five people are in a time-wasting meeting, that’s $250 per hour for every meeting. If they waste an hour a week in a meeting they don’t need to have or be in, suddenly you’re losing around $12,500 a year on that one weekly meeting.

PlayBooks Founder, Greg Sheehan, knows firsthand how detrimental poorly-run meetings can be on strategy execution and company culture. Former CFO of Nike Australia, Sheehan could see that the constant flow of unstructured meetings was becoming unsustainable for businesses. PlayBooks is the antidote to this problem.

By using PlayBooks to create smart, informed agendas with actionable insights — you can drive your business forward in every meeting. Agendas are available online for all employees — remote or otherwise — getting everyone up to speed and on the same page, quickly.

To learn more about the impact of PlayBooks and how to make meetings more efficient and productive, check out our five tips here.

Learn More: How to Run Effective Meetings: 5 Tips To Boost Productivity

CFO tips for productive businesses #2:
Revisit your strategic plan.

An incredible amount of time and effort is put into developing strategic plans. Once they are in place, it’s not always a priority to revisit them. With the world turned upside down by a public health crisis, now is the time to be flexible and dynamic. Don’t stay committed to an outdated roadmap.

If you need to, focus on developing a plan to get out of any difficulties or through worst-case scenarios. How will your business adapt if local and/or international travel doesn’t resume at all in 2021? Or if teams need to work remotely long-term? 2021 will be unpredictable and an amended strategic plan should be reflected in revised budgets.

To get started, look at your key operating metrics. Start playing around with scenarios to understand the impacts on your financial performance in 2021. For example, what do these metrics look like if you:

  • Reduced costs and inventory
  • Rn sales campaigns to stimulate demand
  • Diversified your income/market

PRO TIP: If you’re running meetings on financial scenarios, check out the PlayBooks content library for actionable, expert insights on everything from Business Process Optimisation to Staying Profitable In A Recession.

CFO tips for productive businesses #3:
Focus on getting results from people, not hours.

Whether you’re back in the office or still working remotely, the work-week has been fractured by work pauses or remote operations in 2020. Many employees will work more efficiently than ever, but some will struggle with the disconnect from their regular environment and navigating new ways of working.

To get the most out of your team and drive productivity as a CFO in 2021, remember that hours on the clock don’t always equal results. Your finance team could be online from 7am - 7pm every day, without necessarily achieving results. Understanding your employees' unique working and wellbeing patterns better will enable you to support them in this new world.

Assess the output/results of your teams and ask department heads keep a pulse on how staff are spending their time. If they raise concerns, guide them through ways of increasing productivity and getting more out of individual employees, without increasing their hours.

Examples could include:
  • Helping staff to prioritise tasks by looking at what will have an impact on results if not done today.
  • Shifting meetings to work in with times when teams are fresh and productive. Maybe in the office this was in the morning, but now needs to be after lunch and a fresh-air break for remote workers.
  • Being more flexible with working arrangements so parents don’t have to focus on strategic or critical tasks when also providing care for their children or home schooling.
  • Making conversations about emotions and wellbeing easier to have at work. Stressed employees should feel like they can prioritise self-care to get by in times of crisis, rather than feeling trapped or further burdened by work.
  • Letting employees skip meetings if they are not active contributors. They can be sent a summary of the talking points and actions instead of spectating.

PRO TIP: PlayBooks has three Plays on staff wellbeing, helping you to drive discussions and answer questions such as “How do you help your people focus on their wellbeing and create plans to flourish?

Kickstart a productive year with more efficient meetings.

Don’t take our word for it. Give PlayBooks a test run and see how efficient and productive your 2021 meetings could be. Join PlayBooks today for a free trial.