IT Focus Area: strategy
January 3, 2013
Building a Successful CIO-CFO Relationship: 7 Tips for CIOs
Opening the door for collaboration between the chief financial officer (CFO) and the chief information officer (CIO) and forming a more strategic partnership is not always easy. For a successful relationship, CIOs must better demonstrate to CFOs how IT generates value to the enterprise, and how IT can deliver a competitive advantage.
Here are seven tips to keep in mind.
1. Understand your CFO’s view on technology.
Unless the career of a CFO included a stint in IT, it is not likely that the CFO has the same technology knowledge or the same perspective about technology. Knowing how a CFO thinks about technology and their point of reference is important. Help your CFO understand how transformational technologies such as cloud computing, virtualization, mobility, convergence and big data can help advance the business.
2. Know your CFO’s perspective of the business.
A CFO needs to directly associate IT solutions with specific business problems. Funding is available, if the cost of delivering this solution (the investment) aligns with the company’s return on investment (ROI) model.
3. Put technology requests in business terms.
All IT spend, including day-to-day IT operations, should be positioned in terms of business return. For some expenditures, IT will be an enabler; for others, a profit center; and sometimes necessary overhead. Determining why you are asking is important. For example, some CFOs require CIOs to find money in their own budget to meet certain business objectives. If a CIO has discretionary spend in their budget, CFOs appreciate that they can move money around to meet business objectives. In other cases, IT savings go back to the company, helping the CFO meet business objectives.
4. Analyze the business ROI. Be specific in calculating the ROI for the business for an IT investment.
By teaming up with the business, the CIO and the business lead can go to the CFO together to discuss how this certain IT investment will help drive business growth.
5. Calculate the total cost per unit per IT service.
A CIO should know how much IT services cost the business. For example, how much does IT cost per office or per person? When mergers and acquisitions occur, the CIO knows how much IT will cost per new employee.
6. Question every cost—whether traditionally fixed or not.
IT equipment and applications reflect years of major IT infrastructure investments and tie up millions of dollars. That is why it is important to question every IT asset and capability. Explore alternatives. For example:
Does every employee need a certain software license?
Do you really need those old applications?
Does every employee need a computer on their desk?
Should the company lease IT assets instead of buy them?
7. Take a hard look at how performance and value are defined by internal business leaders.
Cloud, mobility and consumerization are changing the way IT services are viewed by the business. Metrics for IT services are also changing. Three metrics that are gaining momentum:
Speed and simplicity of internal deployment of IT services relative to the external marketplace
Impact of technology on business results
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