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Entries in IIT Assessment (1)

Monday
Dec122011

CFO vs CIO

In this Guest Post, Matthew Ferm comments on a traditional tension…CFO vs CIO

 

In a Network World article titled “CFOs lack faith in CIOs and IT teams,” a survey conducted by Gartner and the professional organization Financial Executives International showed only 25% of CFOs interviewed had confidence that their own IT organization “has the organizational and technical flexibility to respond to changing business priorities,” or “is able to deliver against the enterprise/business unit strategy.”

According to Network World, less than a quarter of the CFOs felt the IT department “delivers the technology innovation needed by the business,” or that it “has the right mix of skilled people to meet business needs.” Only 18% of the CFOs said they thought “our IT service levels meet or exceed business expectations.”

Gartner analyst John Van Decker went on to say “The study’s findings point to the need for the CIO and others in the IT department to reach out to the CFO and be as clear as possible about why some kinds of IT investments are being advocated by the IT department.”

In our opinion, this is a failure of IT to properly communicate with business people. The job of the CIO and the IT management team is to articulate technically complex situations in terms of business benefits and real costs.

Creating an environment for effective communication should start with an IT Assessment. IT Assessments provide quantitative and qualitative measures for most IT activities. Results are delivered in a format and language understood by all setting the tone for future communication.

The IT Assessment interview process measures user and executive expectations relative to IT management perception. Gaps are identified and IT is forced to rethink how it communicates outside of IT. When we perform IT Assessments we ask the question of executives “Do you feel the need to understand how IT works?” In organizations where IT has learned effective business communication, the answer to this question is overwhelmingly “no, I can be of more use by helping them to make decisions.” This is effective partnership.

CIOs and their management teams embracing the results of an IT Assessment avoid the issues described in the Network World article. They find themselves working in the world of metrics, benchmarks, and quantifiable results. They learn to communicate in a “pithy and succinct” manner focusing on business results. They begin to enjoy engaging with executives and earn the respect of those who were judgmental. They look forward and learn to bring others in the company with them. In short, they find their jobs more enjoyable, enjoy greater rewards, and produce better results.