How Market Pressures Transformed the Finance and IT Paradigm

Dallas Clement, CFO of Auto Trader

Over two decades ago, when Dallas Clement became the Chief Financial Officer of Auto Trader, he noticed that IT officials typically reported to the CFO. However, when the internet first became mainstream, IT positions suddenly became more integral to the overall business structure and strategy. Because of their sudden prominence, IT workers began reporting to the CEO and other top executives instead.

But with new statistics showing frightening trends, IT departments might be re-strengthening their relationships with CFOs once again. New research shows that nearly 70 percent of technology projects by major businesses are considered failures. In fact, the disappointment is so high that approximately 1 in every 5 projects will be completely scrapped. Of the projects that do succeed, over 88 percent end up exceeding deadlines and costing more than allotted by the budget.

So what exactly do IT failures and disappointments have to do with CFOs? Simple: CFOs have the authority and wisdom to lead with a strategic and organized vision, to integrate efficient and cost-effective planning, and to collaborate throughout the organization for successful project management.

According to Gartner for Financial Executives, approximately 45 percent of IT leaders report to their CFO as their primary manager. With over 63 percent of CFOs planning more investments in business intelligence and importance, it’s important for them to cultivate that relationship between finance and IT. To accomplish this, CFOs must:

  1. Lead with a strategic and organized vision. The most common pitfall for great ideas is the lack of a single, unified vision. The CFO can be a key player in facilitating a vision that unites stakeholders, management, and business partners. Because CFOs have operational insights that bridge the financial world with complex business workflow, they can create strategies based on the effective technology systems already in place with a mind toward how they need to grow.
  2. Integrate efficient and cost-effective planning. Technology has helped lower costs and increase revenue and wise CFOs should measure IT value before creating a strategy. Again, one of the reasons many technological initiatives are considered failures is because of deadline issues. Because CFOs are experienced in handling resources and implementing other initiatives in a timely manner, technology is only another aspect to consider.
  3. Coordinate between departments. CFOs know exactly how new technology helps the bottom line. Because they’re skilled at getting through jargon and communicating with various entities, such as stakeholders and executive management, CFOs can smoothly guide complex processes.
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