Again in 2012, Ben Horowitz published an posting titled “Good Product or service Supervisor/ Terrible Product or service Supervisor.” We borrowed from his structure as we assessed a critical part in a quick-rising company’s finance business: the controller. (See our prior column, Good CFO/Terrible CFO.) Exclusive many thanks to Aman Kothari, Darko Socanski, and the Bessemer Venture Partners CFO Advisory Board for their contributions.
Discovering the suitable corporate controller for the scale and phase of growth for your business is crucial. If your company is a little, quick-rising business, a “big company” controller may be unable or unwilling to roll up their sleeves to lean in and help address your most crucial challenges. If your business is additional mature, an superb, hands-on little company controller may have difficulty acquiring a solid staff and wondering and performing strategically.
The “goldilocks” controller has the suitable combine of abilities and pursuits for your current problems with the means to scale the company in the brief-to-medium expression. As an business scales it isn’t unusual for the controller to both be upgraded or for a main accounting officer to be employed more than them to help bridge gaps.
Whether or not you need to have a additional nimble, hands-on controller or a significant-photograph, strategic controller, here are some common traits to consider in the variety and evaluation course of action.
A great controller can build and direct a solid accounting staff. He or she hires the suitable people today for the part and for the staff and company society. A undesirable controller is challenged on this front — he or she mis-hires and winds up executing all of the operate on their own, then complains about it to everyone who will pay attention.
A great controller organizes for good results. He or she designs their business in a way that optimally supports the company now and that can be versatile to satisfy altering brief-to-medium expression demands. A undesirable controller hires bodies to “get the work done” and doesn’t have time to consider about what comes subsequent.
A great controller utilizes their innate comprehending of every single staff member’s aspirations and limits to get the most effective out of them. A undesirable controller can’t tell the difference between great expertise and undesirable expertise. He or she is scared to upgrade the staff due to the fact of the extra operate they’ll need to have to do throughout the changeover period of time.
A great controller sets apparent anticipations with the staff and follows up. He or she sets goals for on their own and their staff focused on continuous course of action enhancement. He or she asks tons of open up-ended thoughts and learns from the answers. A undesirable controller does matters the way the previous controller did them without ever asking why. Terrible controllers have no need to have to inquire thoughts as they presently know all of the answers.
At a scaled-down company, a great controller enjoys staying hands-on and is delighted with that as an ongoing aspect of their work, comfortably operating the two as a preparer and a reviewer. A undesirable controller in this measurement company resents possessing to do the element operate on their own and doesn’t hassle to evaluate the operate of subordinates.
A great controller “owns it.” He or she is prepared to do whatever it takes to get the work done and will operate shoulder to shoulder with the staff throughout those people very long shut or pre-audit evenings. The undesirable controller punches out just after their eight several hours no matter of what is heading on in the office environment, leaving the staff behind to fend for on their own.
A great controller is brief to distribute the credit and slow to distribute the blame. He or she takes pleasure in the team’s successes and owns their failures. The same mistake doesn’t come about all over again due to the fact it gets a training second and a lesson is learned. A undesirable controller takes credit for others’ successes and blames other folks when matters go incorrect. There is no training and the same problems come about more than and more than all over again.
A great controller is tremendous services-oriented and ensures that the finance staff provides superb services to its clients (the relaxation of the organization). A undesirable controller doesn’t believe that that finance has any clients and ignores the demands of the other departments.
A great controller communicates well, the two inside finance and to the broader business, figuring out that he or she is aspect of a collective staff that only succeeds with each other. A undesirable controller works in a silo and doesn’t persuade collaboration.
A great controller understands procedures, systems, and their underlying data and will operate intently with engineering and IT associates to get the most effective out of their technologies applications. A undesirable controller doesn’t employ systems assignments due to the fact he or she can’t discover the time. Terrible controllers maintain up the migration from QuickBooks due to the fact they like the adaptability to be equipped to go again to edit shut intervals.
A great controller makes exact financial statements on a predictable schedule and has a program to improve upon their timeliness and comprehensiveness. He or she understands that getting to a more quickly month to month shut means that the staff will have additional time every single thirty day period for course of action enhancement, earning the subsequent month to month shut even greater. In a larger personal company, the great controller has a program to lessen month to month shut to a general public company timeframe even though also keeping the sanity of the staff. The undesirable controller utilizes the full thirty day period (or additional) to shut the textbooks, leaving no time for course of action enhancement and leaving the staff perpetually in a state of exhaustion and stress.
A great controller inherently understands and is fluent in the majority of the operational and specialized accounting principles relevant to the company. At a scaled-down company, the controller may not have the same depth of specialized accounting expertise but he or she will still be fluent in the critical principles so as to know when to inquire extra thoughts or flag challenges. The undesirable controller assumes that the auditors will determine out all of the specialized accounting challenges in the audit so he or she minimizes their effort and hard work expended on investigating them.
A great controller builds a solid and constructive operating connection with the audit husband or wife and is unafraid to have interaction in honest and open up dialog all over crucial inside challenges. Good controllers connect generally and share the common purpose of “getting matters right” and avoiding surprises. The undesirable controller dreads each individual discussion with the audit husband or wife out of concern that his or her incompetence will be exposed.
A great controller is ethically and morally grounded and is unafraid to challenge and have interaction with other folks at all levels of the business in discussions about ethical challenges. A undesirable controller life in concern for their work and as a result will disguise from complicated challenges.
A great controller assignments gravitas and can husband or wife well with executives and other folks throughout the business. A undesirable controller is uncomfortable when interacting with other folks and it displays.
A great controller seeks out mentorship and steerage and is focused on self-enhancement. A undesirable controller just “does their job” as he or she doesn’t have the bandwidth to do any additional.
Adam Spiegel served as CFO for a collection of general public and personal superior growth technologies businesses together with RPX and Glassdoor. Beforehand he invested more than a decade as an financial commitment banker for the Credit score Suisse Initial Boston Engineering Group and Prudential Securities, completing transactions valued at more than $eight billion. He now mentors CFOs and advises other executives of superior growth technologies businesses.
Jeff Epstein is an functioning husband or wife at Bessemer Venture Partners and a lecturer at Stanford College. He specializes in marketplaces and company-to-company application businesses. He serves on the boards of administrators and audit committees of Kaiser Permanente, Twilio, Shutterstock, and a number of personal businesses.