April 7, 2016 – The continual advancement of technology as an integral part of the majority of businesses has meant an expanded role for CIOs. With that territory has to come a necessarily closer working relationship and shared understanding with the CFO as well. In fact, 42% of IT departments report directly to the CFO (that number is a whopping 60% at smaller businesses). Clearly, a relationship must exist between the CIO and CFO that supports active communication and effective collaboration. Keep reading to find out some of the best ways that CIOs can work to build these kinds of relationships and ultimately support the overarching business goals of their company.
The CIO CFO Relationship
In one recent survey from CIO Magazine, only 13% of CIOs reported being seen as a “business leader” while 38% were seen as a “service provider.” Both leadership and partnership and important elements of the CIO/CFO relationship. In order to establish themselves as someone deserving of a seat at the executive table, CIOs need to be business leaders and partners as much as they need to be technical contributors. Technical know-how is certainly essential to the CIO role, but business acumen is also a critical skill. Showing how investments in new technology can impact core company goals, growth objectives, and ultimately the bottom line is the best way for CIOs to earn and maintain attention from the CFO.
Solving Communication Issues
Great communication skills are key for virtually every level of employee, but when it comes to top executives, they become even more important. Going forward, it will be key for CIOs to not only have great ideas as to how technology can lead towards business goals but to be able to communicate these ideas to other executives in a way that everyone can understand. This means overcoming those communications issues that can sometimes hinder relationships between technical and non-technical departments. Leadership training and perseverance is key here, in order to find common language with which to describe the technical needs of the company.
Emphasis on Security
Security is one of the top issues facing IT departments in 2015, but it is chief among CFO challenges since security breaches can be hugely expensive. Therefore, moving forward one of the important CIO jobs will be to utilize his or her communication skills in order to explain security risks and present business savvy solutions to protecting the company from these kinds of breaches. As with any big financial investment, financial transparency will also be key here. CFOs want to be protected against security risks, but also want to know what they are paying for, making clear cost breakdowns and technical explanations of different expenditures essential.
A mutually beneficial relationship between CIOs and CFOs can have a hugely positive influence on a business overall. The more CIOs can work with CFOs and other executives, the better the outcomes.