As CFOs anticipate stronger growth this year, they'relooking to deal with that pick-up with fewer resources. Financechiefs who work with Hackett Group, the benchmarking organization,estimate their companies' revenues will rise 7.9% this year, butsay finance operating budgets will decline by 1.5% and the numberof full-time finance employees will shrink 0.8%.

“We're in yet another year of companies projecting that theirrevenue is going to grow—in fact projecting larger growth in 2012than we've seen over the past couple of years,” says LynneSchneider, senior research director at Hackett. “And yet finance isnot getting any more in absolute terms, which means that inrelative terms they have to get more productive.”

The disparity between the expected revenue growth and thedecline in finance budgets suggests finance teams will have torealize productivity gains of almost 10%, Schneider says, far abovethe annual 2% productivity gain Hackett's data suggest is the normhistorically.

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Susan Kelly

Susan Kelly is a business journalist who has written for Treasury & Risk, FierceCFO, Global Finance, Financial Week, Bridge News and The Bond Buyer.