As the business environment becomes more complex, CFOs’ responsibilities are increasing, making time management a critical factor in job and organisational success.
Two strategies in particular are helping CFOs make the most of their time, according to a survey of more than 2,100 US CFOs by Robert Half Management Resources, a provider of finance and accounting professionals for interim and project work.
Taking advantage of greater technology tools was cited by 35% of respondents as the most effective method for managing their time at work.
“Technology tools, such as smartphones and tablets, can help professionals save time and provide them added flexibility,” Paul McDonald, senior executive director for Robert Half, said in a news release. “However, executives should also prioritise keeping their company’s information technology and financial systems current to help their organisations become faster and more productive.”
But technology has the potential to hinder efficiency, too, said Paul Vanek, CPA, CGMA, managing member of The Vanek Consultancy Group in Houston, Texas.
“There is an off button,” he said. “So you don’t have to be connected to that digital leash 24 hours a day.”
Vanek said that there are times on weekends when he sticks his mobile phone in a drawer to prevent technology from interfering with his time with his family. During the course of the business day, he said, it’s important to distinguish between interruptions that need attention and those that don’t.
Delegation of more responsibilities, cited by another 35% of respondents as their most effective time-management tool, is just as popular as technology in improving CFOs’ efficiency.
The keys for effective delegation are surrounding yourself with good people and trusting them, Vanek said. Developing that trust can be difficult for entrepreneurs as their businesses expand, he said, because they often are accustomed to relying strictly on themselves for all key decisions.
Setting parameters also is important when delegating, Vanek said.
“With the delegation you still have to have boundaries, because people do want boundaries,” he said. “When you give somebody responsibility, they need to carry that accountability. You can delegate things, but still hold people accountable for what you delegated to them.”
Other strategies cited by CFOs as most effective for time management included spending less time in meetings (20%) and travelling less frequently (8%).
—Ken Tysiac (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a CGMA Magazine editorial director.