As the role of the CFO continues to grow and evolve to include more business development functions and responsibilities, it’s clear that you are fast becoming the backbone of the C-suite.
Your role is no longer to operate in look-back mode. Instead, you’re constantly looking forward, seeing opportunities where others see only data and financials.
Consequently, your organization needs you immersed in every aspect of the business. The idea of “staying in your lane” is becoming passé.
That’s why, now more than ever, it’s important for you to build a stronger relationship with your company’s CIO (or, depending on organizational structure, CTO).
CFOs and COOs are, in many ways, cut from the same cloth. CFOs and CEOs are learning that they must maintain closer ties. Historically, though, CFOs and CIOs rarely mix.
But that’s changing, according to a new report from Robert Half, the U.K.-based professional staffing services firm.
“The finance team has been tasked with ever-increasing responsibilities, from delivering bottom-line return to driving business strategy,” write the report’s authors. “With technology playing a central role—and absorbing a lot of budget—it is not surprising that finance is playing an increasing role in technology decision-making. The result: more collaboration between finance and IT departments.”
In addition, the report found that:
- 53 percent say they are working more effectively with their IT counterparts than they were three years ago;
- 97 percent say they are playing a “substantial role” in technology investment decisions;
- 37 percent say they are the main decision maker on IT investments ;
- 40 percent say they take a secondary role in such decisions; and
- 41 percent say the IT chief reports directly to the CFO.
As a result of this increased collaboration, according to the report, organizations are seeing increased profitability, improved efficiencies, lower business costs and a reduction in errors. In a survey of 200 CFOs and finance directors, the report’s authors found that 54 percent of respondents say this increased collaboration has a positive effect on profitability.
Based on these findings, it’s clear that CFOs and CIOs should talk more—whether it is over lunch, coffee or a more formal weekly check in.
Here are some conversation starters for your next meeting together.
- Ask your CIO about what key IT investments the organization needs to make in the next two years.
- Share some of the key trends you’re seeing in the company’s financials, and invite your CTO to share ideas about how the company’s technology department can support the company’s business goals. For that matter, share the company’s business goals, as CIOs are all too often left in the dark on such issues.
- Ask your CIO about whether or not your business could harness the workforce-as-a-service trend, as a way to minimize costs and maximize scaleability.
As a CFO, you have an increasing responsibility to steer your organization in the direction of the future. Technology is a crucial component of that, and so is your CIO.
Question: As a CFO, what’s your relationship like with your CIO or CTO? What can you do over the next quarter to increase collaboration?