The One Thing Every Tech-Savvy CFO Does

There are CFOs who are comfortable with their involvement in the company’s IT and there are CFOs who continually struggle with their technical responsibilities. There are various reasons for the difference and those generally include their level of technical knowledge, their experience level managing IT, and the capabilities of their IT staff. Yet, there is one thing that almost always predicts which group the CFO falls into: successful CFOs structure their IT involvement.

This is particularly interesting given almost every good CFO has a sound structure set up for their financial responsibilities. So it should be no surprise that CFOs who effectively manage their IT responsibilities well do the same. From a practical standpoint, this means they create systems and processes to:

1.      Ensure their work is performed well
2.      Ensure their work product is in line with company expectations
3.      Create a repeatable process to attain a desired level of consistency.

When put this way, it seems obvious. Yet, what happens in most cases is CFOs find themselves out of their comfort zone and they rely on their technical team to provide them with a structure. This is a mistake. Here’s why:

IT people are some of the sharpest, most creative, and dedicated people you’ll find in the workplace. However, unless there’s a CIO on your technical team, developing a business structure for the company’s technology is unlikely to be the IT-team’s forte. Even more, most IT professionals don’t really want that job. Hence, when CFO’s allow the IT team to create the structure – whether it’s by design or the lack thereof – they’re delegating work they’re almost certainly better at. Additionally, the structure put in place by the IT team will generally be technically-driven instead of business-driven and although the technical components are critical, they won’t lead to good IT for the company all by themselves.

At a basic level, the structure a CFO needs will address:

·  Who’s responsible for what?
·  Who does what and when?
·  How does it all work in practice?

The bottom line is that both a technical and business skill set are required to create a good IT structure for any company. The challenge, of course, is how to blend them (business and technical) in a way that works for everyone.

This blog originally appeared on LinkedIn Pulse, authored by Joe Ulm, a Senior Technology Consultant.
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