EPM and the Role of the CFO in Private Equity

EPM and the Role of the CFO in Private Equity

I recently attended an FEI New York City Chapter meeting that included a panel discussion on the topic of “Private Equity & Portfolio Companies:  Finding Success.”

The Transaction Advisory Services Practice Leader from Grant Thornton moderated the panel.  It also included senior Finance executives from private equity companies as well as portfolio companies. 

The panelists discussed the value that private equity companies bring to the table in terms of active management of companies, contrasting it against the hands-off approach of passive investors.  They also discussed best practices in governance for private equity-owned companies and the role of the CFO.

Here’s some of the key points that panelists highlighted:


  • Adopt public company standards – regular board meetings, financial reporting, auditing
  • CFO coordinates communications between owners, CEO, operating management
  • CFO should be active advisor to CEO, voice of reason, help make decisions based on fact vs. emotional attachment to certain parts of the business

How to drive operations improvements:

  • Focus and leverage the “catalyst” in the business, focus on driving growth
  • Pursue acquisitions that provide value, add to and leverage the “platform”
  • Track key metrics, managing and reducing costs where needed
  • Adopt long-term view of the business, 3-5 year vision
  • Bring discipline and sense of urgency to the business

Key traits of CFO in private equity company:

  • Be objective, data-oriented
  • Provide active leadership, execution
  • Ensure credibility – accurate reporting and forecasting, data analysis, advice
  • Bring high energy, commitment, and effort

It was a great session held in front of a packed house of over 100 attendees at Grant Thornton’s office in New York City.  The discussion got me thinking about how cloud-based EPM solutions can help support the needs of private equity investment companies as well as their portfolio companies. 

For example, cloud-based EPM solutions can support private equity companies who invest in multiple businesses and need to manage a portfolio of companies over time and report their financial results.  In this case, cloud-based financial consolidation and reporting systems can be a big advantage. 

They can be set up and deployed quickly.  They can integrate data from multiple GLs.  They can easily consolidate and report financial results on a repeatable, predictable schedule.  All that plus they don’t require a large up-front investment.  New portfolio investments and acquisition can also quickly and easily be incorporated. 

For portfolio companies owned by private equity, cloud-based EPM solutions can help them adopt financial governance processes of larger enterprises.  This includes quickly consolidating financial results from single or multiple GLs and providing timely and accurate reporting to investors. 

Cloud-based financial consolidation and reporting applications can also provide detailed audit trails for both internal and external auditors.  In addition, cloud-based EPM solutions can support planning, forecasting, management, reporting, and tracking of key performance metrics. 

Planful has a number of private equity companies who use our cloud-based EPM suite to consolidate and report on their portfolio companies.  One that I met recently at our user conference is Advent International in Boston. 

In a similar use case, Jazz Pharmaceuticals uses Planful Cloud EPM Suite to help integrate multiple acquisitions into the accounting and planning process.  Listen to this webinar replay to learn more.

To learn more about Planful Cloud EPM solutions, visit our website at www.hostanalytics.com.

Watch Webinar Replay


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If You Fail, We Fail:  Onboarding in the Cloud

If You Fail, We Fail: Onboarding in the Cloud

Onboarding customers, ensuring their success, and driving long-term satisfaction are mission critical in the world of cloud-based software solutions.  For us, that means ensuring all of our customer-facing roles understand our customers’ definitions of success.

From the moment we onboard and welcome a new customer – from implementation through to production – we’re proactive. We stay engaged. We strive for one end-goal: to ensure every customer remains a “customer for life.”

The Experience of Onboarding in the Cloud

Two unique situations recently reminded me of how radically different and beneficial the cloud world is, particularly in two areas: speed and support.

First, during an executive planning session, my CEO asked me how long it took to implement our case tracking software. I was shocked when I heard the words “weeks” come out of my mouth instead of “months.” It was true, yet it sobered me to hear it.

My previous experience deploying similar applications in the on-premises world included a very long and painful hardware procurement and configuration process, design reviews, change control, and various meetings with IT and Operations.

In those days, I had a day job to do. If I could have paid a premium to get things up and running sooner, I would have happily handed it over out of my own pocket.

In the second situation, I was purchasing a solution from a cloud vendor. I was experiencing something similar to what our own customers experience when they onboard. Keep in mind, my job as VP of Customers for Life is to ensure our customers get the support, tools, and resources they need to have success with our solution. Purchasing and deploying software for my department, to help make that happen, is certainly important. It’s not necessarily something I do every day, though.

After signing the contract, the vendor did a great job explaining what I should expect, what they would do, and how we would work together. I liked this – a lot. I was glad that we take a similar approach with our customers.

Learn about what Customer Success means at Planful.

Failure Is Not an Option

I was then reminded of how different the cloud business model is: if you fail, we fail. Immediately. In the on-premises world, if you fail, our product becomes shelf-ware. No one may hear – or care – about it for (literally) years.  In many cases, the maintenance bill continues to be paid by IT.

In the cloud world, the business model works like this. If we don’t make you successful as quickly as possible, you won’t renew. If you don’t renew, we don’t make money. In fact, we typically don’t break even until somewhere between year 2 and year 3 of a customer lifecycle.  This is built into our business model.

So What Do We Do?

We do everything to ensure you’re seeing value in the solution as quickly as possible – and that you’re supported along the way. We know you have day jobs. We know you don’t have the luxury of taking a month off to implement new software. We know that you probably haven’t done this before. We know your teams are pulled in a number of different directions.

That’s why we have a formula for success.

When we welcome you to the Planful family, we lay out the plan that will make you successful as quickly as possible. We tell you exactly what you can expect in the days and weeks ahead.

We introduce you to not only your implementation team, but also to your Customer Success Manager and Technical Account Manager. Their only job is to ensure you have everything you need to be successful. They watch over you as you go through each step in our well-defined process (yes, they have been called “angels”).

We take your definition of “success” and write it in stone. We go back to it over and over again – and again. We refine it based on what we hear from you. We remember that you haven’t done this before. We know that things change along the way.

What’s important is that we have a dialog about the value you want to get out of the solution. Then, we make sure we deliver that value – and more.

At the end of the day, we are only as successful as our customers are. Our job is to make sure that you renew your subscription and become a “customer for life.”  We do that by meeting your definition of success as quickly as is humanly possible. I look forward to working with you to make that happen!

Learn about what Customer Success means at Planful.

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