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Good Controller/Bad Controller – CFO

Back in 2012, Ben Horowitz published an write-up titled “Superior Product Manager/ Poor Product Manager.” We borrowed...

Back in 2012, Ben Horowitz published an write-up titled “Superior Product Manager/ Poor Product Manager.” We borrowed from his format as we assessed a vital function in a rapid-increasing company’s finance organization: the controller. (See our former column, Superior CFO/Poor CFO.) Specific thanks to Aman KothariDarko Socanski, and the Bessemer Enterprise Associates CFO Advisory Board for their contributions.

Acquiring the appropriate corporate controller for the scale and stage of progress for your organization is essential. If your business is a compact, rapid-increasing organization, a “big company” controller could be unable or unwilling to roll up their sleeves to lean in and enable handle your most critical problems. If your organization is far more experienced, an remarkable, palms-on compact business controller could have issues establishing a strong group and wondering and performing strategically.

The “goldilocks” controller has the appropriate mix of expertise and interests for your current difficulties with the capacity to scale the business in the shorter-to-medium expression. As an organization scales it isn’t strange for the controller to both be upgraded or for a chief accounting officer to be employed about them to enable bridge gaps.

Adam C. Spiegel

Regardless of whether you need to have a far more nimble, palms-on controller or a large-photo, strategic controller, below are some common qualities to consider in the selection and evaluation system.

A superior controller can create and lead a strong accounting group. He or she hires the appropriate men and women for the function and for the group and business society. A lousy controller is challenged on this front — he or she mis-hires and winds up executing all of the do the job them selves, then complains about it to everyone who will hear.

A superior controller organizes for results. He or she designs their organization in a way that optimally supports the company now and that can be versatile to satisfy switching shorter-to-medium expression wants. A lousy controller hires bodies to “get the position done” and doesn’t have time to feel about what arrives next.

A superior controller makes use of their innate knowing of every single group member’s aspirations and limitations to get the very best out of them. A lousy controller cannot explain to the difference involving superior talent and lousy talent. He or she is afraid to improve the group for the reason that of the more do the job they’ll need to have to do in the course of the transition time period.

A superior controller sets clear anticipations with the group and follows up. He or she sets goals for them selves and their group centered on continual system advancement. He or she asks loads of open up-ended inquiries and learns from the responses. A lousy controller does issues the way the past controller did them without the need of ever inquiring why. Poor controllers have no need to have to inquire inquiries as they currently know all of the responses.

At a more compact business, a superior controller enjoys staying palms-on and is satisfied with that as an ongoing component of their position, comfortably performing both as a preparer and a reviewer. A lousy controller in this dimension business resents getting to do the detail do the job them selves and doesn’t trouble to evaluate the do the job of subordinates.

Jeff Epstein

A superior controller “owns it.” He or she is ready to do whatever it can take to get the position done and will do the job shoulder to shoulder with the group in the course of these extended close or pre-audit evenings. The lousy controller punches out following their eight hrs irrespective of what is heading on in the business office, leaving the group behind to fend for them selves.

A superior controller is speedy to unfold the credit score and sluggish to unfold the blame. He or she can take pride in the team’s successes and owns their failures. The similar miscalculation doesn’t take place again for the reason that it gets to be a instructing instant and a lesson is discovered. A lousy controller can take credit score for others’ successes and blames others when issues go erroneous. There is no instructing and the similar issues take place about and about again.

A superior controller is tremendous company-oriented and guarantees that the finance group delivers remarkable company to its shoppers (the rest of the business). A lousy controller doesn’t think that finance has any shoppers and ignores the wants of the other departments.

A superior controller communicates nicely, both within just finance and to the broader organization, figuring out that he or she is component of a collective group that only succeeds with each other. A lousy controller will work in a silo and doesn’t stimulate collaboration.

A superior controller understands procedures, units, and their underlying knowledge and will do the job carefully with engineering and IT partners to get the very best out of their know-how resources. A lousy controller doesn’t apply units jobs for the reason that he or she cannot discover the time. Poor controllers keep up the migration from QuickBooks for the reason that they like the overall flexibility to be equipped to go back again to edit closed intervals.

A superior controller creates accurate financial statements on a predictable agenda and has a approach to boost on their timeliness and comprehensiveness. He or she understands that acquiring to a speedier month-to-month close usually means that the group will have far more time every single month for system advancement, creating the next month-to-month close even better. In a larger sized private business, the superior controller has a approach to minimize month-to-month close to a community business timeframe although also preserving the sanity of the group. The lousy controller makes use of the entire month (or far more) to close the textbooks, leaving no time for system advancement and leaving the group perpetually in a point out of exhaustion and anxiety.

A superior controller inherently understands and is fluent in the majority of the operational and specialized accounting concepts pertinent to the company. At a more compact business, the controller could not have the similar depth of specialized accounting know-how but he or she will continue to be fluent in the vital concepts so as to know when to inquire more inquiries or flag problems. The lousy controller assumes that the auditors will figure out all of the specialized accounting problems in the audit so he or she minimizes their energy expended on investigating them.

A superior controller builds a strong and constructive performing romance with the audit husband or wife and is unafraid to engage in trustworthy and open up dialog all over essential inner problems. Good controllers communicate usually and share the common aim of “getting issues right” and preventing surprises. The lousy controller dreads just about every conversation with the audit husband or wife out of panic that his or her incompetence will be exposed.

A superior controller is ethically and morally grounded and is unafraid to problem and engage with others at all concentrations of the organization in discussions about ethical problems. A lousy controller lives in panic for their position and thus will cover from challenging problems.

A superior controller jobs gravitas and can husband or wife nicely with executives and others across the organization. A lousy controller is uncomfortable when interacting with others and it exhibits.

A superior controller seeks out mentorship and assistance and is centered on self-advancement. A lousy controller just “does their job” as he or she doesn’t have the bandwidth to do any far more.

Adam Spiegel served as CFO for a sequence of community and private significant progress know-how businesses like RPX and Glassdoor. Earlier he spent about a 10 years as an investment banker for the Credit score Suisse To start with Boston Technologies Team and Prudential Securities, completing transactions valued at about $eight billion. He now mentors CFOs and advises other executives of significant progress know-how businesses.

Jeff Epstein is an functioning husband or wife at Bessemer Enterprise Associates and a lecturer at Stanford University. He specializes in marketplaces and company-to-company program businesses. He serves on the boards of directors and audit committees of Kaiser Permanente, Twilio, Shutterstock, and numerous private businesses.

Bessemer Enterprise Associates, contributor, controller, Glassdoor