Most CFOs Rely On External Support For Major Initiatives, Survey Finds

Staff Report

Thursday, February 28th, 2019

In the face of rapidly changing market demands, companies frequently look outside their organization for immediate and specialized help, new research shows. A Robert Half Management Resources survey found nearly seven in 10 CFOs (69 percent) work with external resources, often in combination with internal staff, for major one-time business initiatives, such as a merger, acquisition or regulatory compliance transition.

CFOs who seek external assistance indicated a need for specialized expertise (61 percent), support for full-time internal staff (49 percent), and access to new methodologies and processes (46 percent) as primary reasons. The abilities to immediately assemble and scale teams were also significant factors.

"New technologies and shifting business demands compel companies to adapt quickly to remain competitive," said Tim Hird, executive director of Robert Half Management Resources. "Change can be messy and disruptive if transformation initiatives are inadequately resourced. In response, many companies embrace the new labor model, which includes bringing in experienced consultants who can help ensure productivity and successful transitions."

"Business units often lack the staff levels and skills needed to tackle unplanned events or major strategic initiatives," said Jay Thompson, a Protiviti managing director in the Business Performance Improvement practice. "A firm providing managed services can quickly mobilize consulting expertise and specialized operational skill sets for initiatives that companies have to get right. Establishing an ongoing working relationship with an external firm builds familiarity with the organization's people and processes, further enhancing the ability to help deliver change, thereby adding value to the enterprise."

Robert Half Management Resources offers these best practices when determining resource needs and working with external providers:

  • Analyze in-house resources and external staffing needs based on gaps in the available labor pool, specialized skills and project-oriented experience.

  • Create a budget for specialized, project-based staffing and consulting resources. Include separate budget categories for anticipated and unanticipated initiatives.

  • Determine if project-management responsibilities and new methodologies are needed.

  • Establish a knowledge-transfer process so key learnings from the initiative are shared with staff prior to consultants' departure.

  • Conduct post-project meetings with the external services provider to assess process discoveries and facilitate future collaboration.