“To promote innovation, IT needs to reach outside its own organization to connect with and support the 30% or so innovators who are wired to figure out a better way…[In essence] CFOs can make all the difference to an important IT project’s success.” –CFO.com e-book
A couple of months ago, we tackled Part One of a discussion on CFO.com’s e-book, Becoming a Strategic Partner with IT, and discussed the importance of the finance and Information Technology relationship (IT) when it comes to a company’s growth and success. We discussed the need to align the two functions, understand systems and costs, and build collaboration among top-producing talent.
Now, as the end of the year approaches and companies are finalizing their budget plans for 2015, it continues to be a necessity for CFOs and other finance leadership to keep close ties with the technology functions of their businesses, including processes, systems and people.
Below, we’ll take a look at a few more highlights addressed in the CFO.com e-book regarding the importance of a strong finance and IT dynamic:
Keep a United Front
In recent history, the extent of the finance leadership relationship with that of IT went as far as approving big-ticket IT purchases, and that’s about it. However, in today’s fast-evolving digital age, CFOs and other finance leadership need to keep the conversation going well beyond a mega-sized project. They need to show how valuable the IT function is for the company as a whole and clarify a much bigger goal. “Protecting the organization’s business model, operations, employees and other stakeholders, as well as its brand and reputation [must be considered],” says CFO.com. Cybersecurity is playing a large role in this as well, and the potential for significant financial harm must be monitored. It’s important for finance leadership to be attentive to these risks and have an active involvement at all times.
Find the Missing C-Level Link
A c-level IT professional is just as significant for a company’s financial health as a CFO. With the increase in executives having both finance and technology backgrounds, it’s important to hire a c-level counterpart within the IT function. It’s also extremely crucial to outline what areas each executive has authority. Often times with the hiring of a CIO, a restructuring takes place. Clearly defining who is accountable for what – can alleviate frustration and counter-productivity. Additionally, identifying performance measurements or metrics and reporting them back and forth to the CFO will help manage expectations of both functions – and ultimately achieve company success.
Use What You Have to Build Strength
According to the CFO.com e-book, “Too often, CFOs are not used strategically enough with key IT initiatives. While they are often involved with budgeting, their greater value as an independent advisor is often missed.” Having a shared strategic vision can benefit the entire company. Using CFOs for their broad perspective and organizational prowess can improve projects and results over time. Additionally, having an integrated project planning approach in place can prove positive. Just having a varied perspective can increase a company’s competitive advantage.
Overall, a strong relationship between CFOs and their IT counterparts is the perfect formula to better position your company for success.
What are other ways that CFOs and finance leadership can build a stronger dynamic with CIOs and the rest of their IT functions? Comment below and let us know!