Ahhhh. . . chief financial officer: a title, surely, that only a mother could love. Yet there you are, the chief information officer, hitched to this business colleague in a relationship of convenience, confusion and culture-clash. CIOs are from Venus. CFOs are from Mars. And nowhere is this more obvious than at budget time.
We’ve all seen the cartoons, in which the firm’s annual budget biffo depicts the CEO sitting at the head of the table, arms folded, eyebrows arched. The CIO stands to one side -- there is no chair for him -- a forlorn individual. He is undernourished, dishevelled, shoulders hunched, wearing specs. On the other side of the table lounges the CFO: handsome, well-dressed, grinning like a Cheshire Cat. The moment tells us the CIO has just realised he’s taken a knife to a gunfight.
CIOs are optimistic big thinkers who thrive on change, whereas CFOs tend to crave order
Julian Tan, CIO and head of business operations at Dexus Property Group, says he’s all for cost reduction, but he wants to know: who’s cost we are talking about?
“The item that should be in the CFO’s budget, but always ends up in mine, is training,” says Tan. “This even covers re-training when his staff haven’t paid enough attention on the first go! As we all know, people learn at different rates. They just seem to learn more slowly when their boss isn't paying!”
Bruce Carlos, a former CIO of Raytheon Australia, agrees that training costs should reside with the bean counters. But he wouldn’t stop there.
2. All shared services
Carlos tells of a successful CIO friend, an accountant by profession with years in sales and business development, who still talks of how he “came over from the dark side”.
“He has selling and financial acumen, but the dark side he describes helps to keep him connected with CFOs, so he always gets his budget,” Carlos says.
Carlos believes CIOs are optimistic big thinkers who thrive on change, whereas CFOs tend to crave order. A meaner man would say they’re the type of people who fold a fitted sheet.
“Sometimes we seem to be from different planets,” Carlos says. “Technology Management Analytics reports that about half the technology managers surveyed and even more financial executives cannot agree on how to measure technology ROI, and few financial executives thought IT could measure ROI adequately.
“So things that should be in the CFO’s budget are shared services that create shared value through common centres of excellence; and any expenses for organisational development and process improvement, which the CIO needs for IT to function effectively.”
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