Two people, one of them a CFO, talking and discussing roles

The Changing Role of the Public Sector CFO

The public sector is undergoing a transformation in response to the challenges and opportunities of the 21st century. Social unrest, climate change, budgetary constraints, digital disruption, and new procurement rules are all putting pressure on public sector organisations to deliver more value, efficiency, and innovation.

As the chief financial officers (CFOs) of these organisations, you have a critical role to play in ensuring that your organisation can adapt and thrive in this changing environment. You are not only responsible for managing the financial resources and risks of your organisation, but also for providing strategic leadership and guidance to your stakeholders and citizens.

In this blog post, we will discuss some of the key aspects of the changing role of the public sector CFO, and how you can leverage cloud technology to support your mission.


From stewardship to strategy

 As a public sector CFO, you need to move beyond the traditional role of stewardship and compliance and become a strategic partner to your organisation's leadership. You need to provide insight and analysis that inform decision-making and planning, align resources with priorities and outcomes, drive performance improvement and innovation, and communicate effectively with internal and external stakeholders. You need to be able to anticipate future trends and scenarios, identify opportunities and risks, and advise on how to optimise resource allocation and impact.


From silos to collaboration

As a public sector CFO, you need to break down the silos that exist within your organisation and across different levels of government, establishing common goals and metrics that align with your organisation's mission. You need to leverage data and analytics to create a single source of truth that enables transparency, accountability, and learning.

You also need to foster a culture of collaboration and trust among your finance team and other functions such as operations, IT, HR, procurement, and service delivery. Part of this collaborative effort includes forging a close working relationship with your S151 officer to ensure the soundness and sustainability of the council's finances. By working together, you can provide strategic leadership, robust challenge, and clear communication to the council and its stakeholders. This can help to identify and address financial risks, opportunities, and priorities.


From legacy systems to cloud technology

As a public sector CFO, you need to embrace cloud technology as an enabler for transformation. Cloud technology can help you streamline processes, automate tasks, reduce costs, improve security, enhance agility, and enable innovation. Cloud technology can also help you access real-time data and analytics, integrate systems and platforms, and leverage artificial intelligence and machine learning. Cloud technology can help you create a modern finance function that supports your changing role and delivers value to your stakeholders and citizens.

The public sector CFO is facing unprecedented challenges and opportunities in today's changing   economy. By adopting a strategic, collaborative, and cloud-enabled approach, you can lead your organisation towards success and make a positive difference in society.

Image of guests at Advanced's summit in London

No longer just a financial manager

Public sector CFOs are now strategic leaders who need to balance the demands of multiple stakeholders and citizens in a complex and uncertain environment. They have to deal with changing regulations, budgetary constraints, social and environmental challenges, and digital transformation. How can they cope with these pressures and deliver success to their organisation and society?

One of the key enablers for the public sector CFO is cloud technology. Cloud technology offers many benefits for the public sector, such as:

Cost efficiency: Cloud technology reduces the need for upfront capital investment and maintenance costs. It also allows for flexible scaling up or down depending on demand and usage. This helps the public sector CFO optimise their resources and achieve more with less.

Agility: Cloud technology enables faster deployment and integration of new applications and services. It also facilitates collaboration and data sharing across different departments and agencies. This helps the public sector CFO respond quickly to changing needs and expectations of their stakeholders and citizens.

Innovation: Cloud technology provides access to advanced analytics, artificial intelligence, machine learning, and other emerging technologies that can enhance decision making, performance management, risk management, and service delivery. It also fosters a culture of innovation and experimentation within the organisation. This helps the public sector CFO drive innovation and value creation for their organisation and society.

Security: Cloud technology offers high levels of security and compliance with various standards and regulations. It also provides backup and recovery options in case of disasters or cyberattacks. This helps the public sector CFO protect their data and assets from threats and vulnerabilities.

Cloud technology is not a silver bullet that can solve all the challenges faced by the public sector CFO. It requires careful planning, implementation, governance, change management, talent development and stakeholder engagement to ensure its successful adoption.

However, cloud technology is a powerful tool that can help the public sector CFO transform their role from a financial manager to a strategic leader who can deliver success to their organisation and society in today's changing economy.

Image from Finance and Procurement summit in London

Did you miss our Finance and Procurement Summit?

The Advanced Finance and Procurement Summit at 30 Euston Square, London, focused on digital transformation in the public sector, and how the Procurement Act 2023 will necessitate sweeping changes for contracting authorities. The summit was chaired by former BBC presenter Denise Mahoney, with expert speakers from the National Audit Office, SOCITM, CIPFA and Advanced.

If you were unable to attend the event or would like to watch again, you can access our on-demand video here:


Image credit: iStock and Advanced

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Ep 48. Achieving Net Zero - Cllr Abdul Jabbar - Oldham Council

As central government aims for the UK to be net zero by 2050, councils around the country make plans for how to reduce emissions. This episode’s guest, Oldham’s Councillor Abdul Jabbar outlines the importance of coming together to reduce the nation’s carbon footprint, the benefits of achieving net zero, and how Oldham Council are working to do just that.

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