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Attention CFOs: Here’s How to Bond with the CIO

November 26, 2015 Mitchell Buchanan  
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The CFO-CIO relationship is now more important than ever, so you gotta look for ways to make sure that relationship is a healthy, cooperative two-way street.

A few weeks ago, the CIO Executive Council, an association for IT leaders, featured interviews with a number of their members in an article called Attention CIOs: Here’s How to Bond With the CFO.” It argued that those developing technology strategies should be in regular communication with the head of the finance department, speak only at a high level about IT, and learn more about the CFO’s top priorities.

In some organizations today, CIOs in fact report directly to the CFO. In most, they are peers in senior leadership who should be collaborating on shared business objectives. In some cases though, the relationship may be disjointed at best and counter-productive at worst. As such, we think it equally useful to share some of our thoughts on what matters to CIOs today so CFOs can successfully communicate with them, because creating a healthy relationship is a two-way street.

1. CIOs Are Aware of the Need (And Are Prepared) to Change:

Do a quick online search for “the changing role of the CIO” and you’ll find a near-infinite number of blog posts, white papers and multi-day conferences devoted to helping shift IT leaders and their teams from being cost centers to groups that help create value for their organization. If you’ve heard about cloud computing and want to explore its benefits, your CIO may have moved certain areas of IT infrastructure there already. They can provide feedback on the pros and cons based on their experience, and help identify where software-as-a-service (SaaS) products – from financial software to your existing Excel infrastructure – might help reduce the finance department’s overhead and barriers to adoption.

2. CIOs Are More Eager to Talk Business than Bits

The watchword among CIO communities today is “innovation.” IT executives want to be seen as helping to transform the customer experience, and they know they can’t do that unless they show they have a holistic understanding of the organization’s needs. Similarly, don’t be afraid to share details of what you’re doing as a CFO to help drive growth. IT management is actively looking to take on work that will demonstrate their capability to digitize manual processes for greater accuracy, efficiency and productivity.

3. CIOs Are Redefining their Core Metrics

In the old days, a CIO might be considered good at his or her job if they managed to keep servers from crashing or preventing a computer virus from infecting machines. Today, they’re more focused than ever before on helping turn data into insight — a goal they share with most finance departments. If you think tools like corporate performance management (CPM) software can make you more predictive and proactive as a department AND as an organization, your IT executives may have the right, unique perspectives you need to fully understand the change management requirements necessary for success.

“Financial executives are among the busiest people in any organization, so it’s important to learn something about what they do,” the CIO Executive Council said. That’s equally true of CIOs.

The investment of time that financial executives make in developing a great relationship with IT could generate a return that will not only benefit them, but the organization as a whole.

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