Why collaboration between finance and IT is essential for your business to evolve
Regardless of the industry you operate in, you need all hands on deck when it comes to weathering the economic storm we’re seeing right now. While finance and IT are two very separate wings of an organisation, they’re two key pieces of the puzzle. Both can provide the metrics to drive different parts of the business forward, so it helps if the two have a close relationship. Ready to learn how to reap the rewards of this unlikely duo?
It takes two to tango
Digital transformation is a top priority for many businesses right now. It’s a huge enabler of sustainable growth and the key to staying competitive in this difficult landscape, not to mention it has the potential to be a significant cost saver. In fact, more than 60% of GDP in 2022 is likely to have depended on digital technology.
But succeeding in becoming digitally agile requires the buy-in of both finance and IT. Luckily, both have a shared interest in determining which technological investments are worthwhile, so it makes sense that they collaborate to come to an agreement.
It’s simple – the CIO needs adequate funding to implement these new technologies. And the CFO holds the keys to the funds. Ideally, the CIO will involve the CFO in the early ideation stages, to help them understand the opportunities and risks of the investment. Only then can the CFO make an informed decision about whether it fits the company’s mission.
Finance can make IT more efficient
The finance team is likely to have a very strong grasp of the business goals, in order to plan for the future and allocate the appropriate resources. So they’re well placed to help IT create a budget that fits with the company’s mission, allowing both parties to achieve their objectives. It also helps if they can explain why achieving these goals will make the life of the IT team easier.
For CIOs, that means less technical debt. The more technical debt you have as a business, the more likely it is for software development to be held up, which can wreak havoc on IT’s plans. Reducing their technical debt gives IT a better long term platform to support the finance team’s changing needs.
IT can strengthen the finance team’s security
Cybersecurity is a big deal for every business, especially those who have made the move to fully remote, where all company data is accessible via the cloud. And finance is responsible for some very important data, which needs to be kept under lock and key. This is where IT can add value.
PwC found that 51% of surveyed organisations had experienced fraud in the past two years, and often this can result in downtime. This is every finance team’s worst nightmare, as if the business isn’t operating, they’re not making money. So it’s in both teams’ best interests to keep sensitive financial information secure. Learn here how we keep your spending safe.
How to kick start the collaboration
It’s clear that financial leaders don’t only need to pivot into strategy to help grow their businesses, but into technology, too.
The first thing to do is to illustrate the cost to the company of not teaming up. If digital transformation is dependent on a strong relationship between finance and IT, what would the loss be to the business if it stayed still? If you can put actual numbers on it and pull together a persuasive business case, you should be able to get the CEO on board if it's in their best interests.
Then, make sure both sides have a thorough understanding of the other’s department. Does the CFO know what the CIO’s goals are for the quarter and what their budget is (and vice versa)? It’s a good idea to pick a stakeholder from each team to catch up on a weekly basis, to prevent any chinese whispers or breakdown in communication.
If any new technologies are being implemented, make sure anyone involved feels personally invested in their success. For example, if certain teams need upskilling to learn a new software, they need to understand what’s going to happen next and how they’re going to be implicated. Generally, if people understand the positive impact of an initiative, they’re more likely to get stuck in. This is why it’s important to avoid opting into programmes where you’re unclear on what you’re trying to deliver or don't fully believe in it. This clarity of vision is what you’ll pass onto your teams to get the work done quickly and efficiently.
When you’re tackling big technological investments, don’t try to bottle the ocean. Break the process up into manageable chunks – whatever you can manage alongside your existing projects. Try to set yourself achievable, realistic goals, and remember that these goals are meant to enrich your life and lead to better outcomes than the ones you’re currently experiencing. It might be a slow process, but it should be worth it in the long run.
Lastly, we can’t stress enough the importance of over communicating. That means massive amounts of over communication. Think you’ve said something enough times? Say it again, whether that’s in your monthly company-wide Town Halls, over email or in an emoji-filled Slack broadcast. More is always better. Lunch and learns are great for this, as both parties benefit. You communicate your upcoming plans and why you need people to pay attention, and they get a free lunch. It’s a win-win.
For any finance team to broaden their remit beyond being the gatekeepers of the budget and get fully invested in the business’ goals, they need to form an alliance with IT. Similarly, for IT to achieve their internal goals, they need the backing of the CFO. This mutually beneficial strategic partnership is easier to achieve than you think – a few small steps can make the world of difference.
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