CFOs and innovation are not usually associated with each other. Increasingly, however, CFOs are playing a crucial role helping to foster innovation. Since innovation is the lifeblood of companies and startups in the San Francisco Bay Area (especially in Silicon Valley), this is a very important local trend for small companies as well.
A recent interview with the CFO (Rick Puckett) of snack company Snyder’s-Lance reveals how “the role of the CFO is transforming from that of a bean-counter to a bean-sprouter.”
Here are some highlights from the interview:
“We have an effective “Stage Gate” process in place for all innovation, which includes projected profitability as one of the gates. As CFO, I monitor the process and make sure that finance is fully engaged at all innovation stages, and that there are strategic partnerships with the marketing, sales and supply chain departments, as we define our products and profitability goals.”
“As a CFO, it is imperative that I monitor and stay current on consumer trends. There are significant shifts in consumer behavior and expectations happening today that are driving demand for new and different products. For example, there is an urban movement happening that drives where products are sold and how they are distributed. All of these things require careful strategic thought from companies today, as they could result in infrastructure changes that can be costly.”
“Putting in guardrails and disciplines enable the CFO to feel comfortable that innovation will deliver continued profitability.”