In today’s business climate, technology and digital transformation efforts are coming along with an increasing amount of intelligent cyber attacks, ransomware, security threats, data loss, and IP risk. Naturally, there’s also more regulation than ever to try and mediate this, but compliance alone isn’t enough to keep your critical business data safe. IT departments have to be innovative, proactive, and diligent to protect the business, and it shows: 82 percent of CIOs say they have implemented new technologies since the pandemic began.
It’s more important than ever to take stock of your business’ digital footprint in order to keep the trust of stakeholders, users, employees, customers, and more. And it won’t be possible without the harmonious collaboration of finance and IT departments together.
Challenges for IT and finance leaders
For CFOs, it’s challenging to see IT spending a lion’s share of the budget—it’s usually one of if not the largest piece. But on the flip side, CIOs tend to feel as though their budget is never quite enough to completely mitigate data risks and safeguard company operations. Your business surely doesn’t want to compromise compliance, innovation, or user experience by shortchanging the IT budget, but balancing this with finance’s expenditure goals is a tricky act to pull off.
Both IT and finance leaders need to ensure business operations are running efficiently and reliably, without bloating the budget. Rather than divvying up this goal into two parts between the departments, challenges can be overcome when leaders from both sides get together, rallied around that single objective as one holistic goal.
What a good IT strategy looks like for both finance and IT
The IT spending and strategy, when under ideal joint ownership between finance and IT, is the hub for improving operational efficiency throughout the business. It should give all business units and roles the tools they require to be competitive in the market and satisfy customer needs. It should also, however, include an appropriate level of governance that considered balancing budget with those needs.
It’s important to make sure your IT strategy does not merely exist but serves a clear, definable purpose to your larger business objectives. Aligning IT spending with specific company metrics and goals is a good way to unite finance and IT on the IT investments already made and proposed investments for the future. This will also help both departments critically analyze and cut costs where applicable if they are no longer supporting larger business outcomes.
Finally, a good strategy owned by finance and IT will also address adoption—what’s in it for your employees to abide by and use the tech stack as planned? Implementing internal controls, having a procedure to hold team members accountable for rogue software or expenses, and outlining the individual benefits of IT requirements will help ensure IT gets its compliance and finance gets its ROI for new technology investments.
How CIOs and CFOs can come together around IT security
Oftentimes, it’s easy for tension to arise between IT and finance over spending decisions. The CFO is trying to protect the company financially, while the CIO is trying to protect the company from security threats and falling behind without innovation. Their perspectives are driven from different places, but both are trying to drive the business forward. While innovative aspirations and cost requirements may not always be aligned, finance and IT can work together to identify what is a must-have or a nice-to-have and find the middle ground to fit both agendas. Sometimes, merging existing platforms or technologies is a great way to both streamline spending and better unify company data—a solution both IT and finance can readily get behind.
Another key to bringing finance and IT together over IT spending is to always approach the CFO with a business case, cost benefits, ROI, and a gap analysis in hand. Similarly, make sure the CIO is given information regarding budgets goals, proposed cuts’ effects on compliance, etc. Showing preparation and knowledge of the other department’s concerns, regardless of the final decision, paves the way for more united discussions in the future.
Fostering a good relationship between finance and IT will help companies navigate the future and its many security complexities with ease. Companies can also stay a step ahead of the curve by bringing their IT and finance departments in sync when it comes to IT spending.