Optimizing the CIO and CFO Relationship

The CIO-CFO dynamic has undergone some variations about the previous ten yrs. What are these variations and how do they influence company dynamics?

Earlier this year, I visited with Gina Mastanuono, CFO at ServiceNow, which gives a cloud  platform that assists organizations handle digital workflows. As a previous CIO, I recounted my early activities to her about CFOs who had been skeptical of new IT projects, and whose objections had been a continuous presence in funds funding meetings.

Mastanuono laughed. “That’s so aged college!”

“Today, CFOs roles have modified noticeably,” she said. “As CFOs, we realize that we just cannot just are living in the money world. We ought to be enterprise strategists, able of main our organizations via a disaster like COVID, but also comprehending how we will come out powerful on the other facet by strategically supporting innovation.”

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It was a breath of clean air to hear Mastanuono — however in the again of my brain, I even now puzzled if it was actually “old school” for CIOs to perceive the CFO as a task blocker and a skeptic.

Apparently, I’m not the only one.

“Ninety-6 % of survey respondents documented that CIO and CFO collaboration is important to IT transformation results,” pointed out Anna-Lee Muck, an editor in main for Dell who was reporting on a Dell survey. “However, a disheartening 89% cited significant limitations — ranging from out-of-date suggestions about the position of CIOs to obsolete reporting constructions — to this collaboration.”

Obsolete reporting framework is well recognized by CIOs, where by usually the CIO ought to report to the CFO instead of to the CEO. Early in my CIO career, I dealt with this reporting framework and it stifled me to the level of making me determined to get out from beneath it. So I utilized for a CIO placement with another business where by I documented right to the CEO and I felt I would have much more autonomy and influence.

I was right about that — but I even now experienced to meet with the CFO to get things performed — so I determined to find out much more about our unique approaches of viewing the world.

“CIOs are much more very likely to be pioneers and/or integrators, though CFOs are much more very likely to be guardians and drivers,” in accordance to consultancy Deloitte in a description of unique company personality varieties. “Pioneers are novelty-looking for, they like acquiring a range of prospects, producing new ideas….On the other hand, the guardian personality values framework and loyalty, are considerably much more methodical, element-oriented, and potentially a small much more hazard-averse.” 

I identified this to be true from my have knowledge. However, I also acquired about time that I could respect these distinctions. The CFO could also provide effective money and price tag insights into projects that would aid us frame up greater worth propositions for technological know-how suppliers when they had been performing to make our enterprise.

“CFOs comprehend that they have to modify and broaden their expertise,” said Mastanuono. “The modern CFO understands technological know-how and how it can change the enterprise. He or she also requirements to comprehend the long term of what finance will look like, and be a transformer of folks, processes, and methods. The CFO ought to go from staying a reactive to a proactive collaborator so the stop enterprise can be positioned to have the right methods and facts at the right time. Breaking down silos and establishing empathy and cross-functional collaboration are specifications, and the CFO-CIO romantic relationship is a important piece.”

Supplied this, what can CIOs and CFOs do to get the very best out of the CIO-CFO romantic relationship for on their own and their organizations?

  • Realize where by the other person is coming from – Progressively, CFOs bone up on IT though CIOs find out finance. In each cases, it is not to become an expert in another industry. In its place, the purpose is to acquire ample performing information of the other industry so they can be conversant. CIOs, for illustration, should really be ready to comprehend company money experiences, the company’s money challenges, and what the repercussions are very likely to be for any IT task long just before the task is introduced for funding.
  • Meet up with often – In the previous, it wasn’t uncommon for CIOs and CFOs to get collectively in the course of funds arranging time, but seldom at any other time. However, you can find a true profit in remaining “connected” year-round by collaborating on enterprise approaches that have interaction each finance and IT. “By aligning finance and IT at the start out of each task, you get greatest enterprise worth,” said Mastanuono.
  • Co-acquire recommendations for investments – Just about just about every enterprise expenditure these days has a technological know-how ingredient. In this atmosphere, CIOs and CFOs can look at components these as return on expenditure (ROI) or the administration of task challenges that could affect financials down the road. They can also look at hidden earnings opportunities and decreased costs that can come about with the right technological know-how investments.  CFOs can offer you recommendations on how to very best arrange the funding of a task. Does it make perception to operationalize a task funds in a year in which the business is undertaking well? Or is it much more prudent to amortize the task technological know-how expend about time so the total money affect can be unfold about numerous yrs?
  • Collaborate on a framework for IT expenditure governance – If CFOs and CIOs can acquire a popular approach to IT investments that appears to be like at strategic challenges as well as rewards, it results in popular floor for task conversations and evaluations. That can make improvements to the stop end result for the enterprise. Challenges staying seemed at could be money, but they could also relate to other places, these as IT stability, or the viability of most popular suppliers and technologies to endure as organizations for the long haul. In a discussion these as this, technological know-how investments should really be prioritized in accordance with requirements of the all round company enterprise course. Prospective regulatory and purchaser problems and challenges can be talked over, as can the hazard of prolonged integrations with methods of history that ought to be carried out by IT at the price of other projects.
  • Measure for enterprise outcomes – At the onset, just about every task has an predicted rosy outcome—but some projects do greater than others about time. By trying to keep a finger on the pulse of concluded projects and what they are delivering to the enterprise, each the CFO and the CIO can meet and consider what labored and what upset, then find out from there. “An illustration is a recruiting technique that IT installs for HR,” said Mastanuono. “The CIO may feel of the task in terms of it staying successfully installed. But the CFO may ask, is attrition down because we’ve been making use of this technique? And if attrition is down, how is that affecting the bottom line?”

Connected Articles:

Strategies to Aid CIOs and CFOs Determine Cloud Expenses and ROI

What Gets to be of CFOs During Digital Transformation?

The Ever-Growing Listing of C-Level Technology Positions


Mary E. Shacklett is an internationally acknowledged technological know-how commentator and President of Transworld Data, a marketing and technological know-how expert services firm. Prior to founding her have business, she was Vice President of Merchandise Investigation and Program Improvement for Summit Information and facts … Watch Full Bio

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