Interim Executives: Filling Critical Gaps When It’s Most Necessary – Part 1

Interim CIO

Part-Time CFO and Interim CIO: Sometimes One Is Not Enough 

Georgia, the COO/CFO of a $30 million family-owned engineering services company in the energy sector, was driven. She had accomplished quite a bit already to put a solid infrastructure in place to support the business’ growth. She was highly capable and able to manage it all—until the company needed to renew its line of credit. She found herself being asked for a great deal of information they had not previously needed to gather or package within their business. 

Georgia felt as though the bank was asking her to look into a crystal ball to forecast balance sheets and profitability twelve months out. She was pulling her hair out; they really hadn’t done that before. She relied heavily on the firm’s CPA until finally, the CPA threw up his hands and suggested another solution—a CFO-for-hire. 

Including the line-of-credit, they were struggling with putting together a budget as they entered their busy season with no reporting or processes in place for leadership to rely on for better decision-making. 

The part-time CFO worked with the company for one to two days a week over the next couple of years. He created an interactive cash flow model for easier budgeting; determined the monthly and annual break-even for sales volume allowing for more immediate information; created job costing; and brought in a risk manager and insurance broker to resolve some insurance loss issues favorably for the company. 

The company also needed more assistance with its accounting functions on an everyday basis. The part-time CFO helped the company hire a full-time Controller, then on-boarded and helped train the new hire. 

Throughout the engagement, the part-time CFO kept the end game in mind: the owner’s intention to sell. The part-time CFO helped maximize cash flow at exit to the owner due to his projections and planning. His early work helped realize significant insurance and IT savings and establish a successful banking relationship throughout, including an increased line of credit.

Throughout the CFO’s engagement, Georgia remained a very busy and engaged leader with several additional projects in progress. Among these was an office move, which offered a good opportunity to clean the slate. She had wanted to hire a corporate IT manager for a long time, so she brought in an interim CIO. The interim CIO helped with the move, planning the logistics and getting the new network setup. She also created a job description for a new IT manager and helped with the recruiting, hiring, and onboarding, making sure his goals were aligned with the company’s goals. The new hire ended up working out great, extending what the interim CIO had helped accomplish.

What was next for Georgia? Hiring more people. She wanted to elevate the company’s human resources program, which involved improving the compensation structure, retention strategy, updating the handbook, hiring processes, and so on. There was no question: bringing in an HR executive on a project basis would be the best solution to get it all accomplished. 

The company was ultimately successfully sold with credible finances.

Lesson Learned

You don’t need to be an expert in all things to run a dynamic, complex organization that leans on you for leadership in many different areas of expertise. All the competencies, experience, skills and expertise you need are available on an as-needed basis. Georgia brought in experts as hired guns rather than risking the business’s future trying to figure it out herself.

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