How does your CFO view ICT? What is the best way to get their attention? Richard Paik regularly talks to CFOs across industries as director of finance, Microsoft New Zealand. He shares his insights on CIO-CFO relationships. Be key partners: CFOs are feeling a lot of pressure in today’s economy. As the market retracts and companies fight for a seemingly smaller pie, we’re asked to help grow the business, improve productivity and drive compliance, all with fewer resources. CIOs are a key partner in enabling us to be successful.
Fundamentally, CIOs are best positioned to drive productivity improvements within a company. A strong CIO is looking at the long-term strategy of information technology and how they can use technology to drive process improvements, increase job satisfaction, enhance compliance and drive up productivity. It’s their vision that makes them a strong business partner and their commitments are extremely aligned with that of finance. Overall, I believe CFOs appreciate their CIOs as one of the most valuable assets within a company.
Think like a CFO: To gain the CFO’s attention, you only need to think like a CFO. The current CFO’s key focuses are around increasing productivity (drive revenue up or cost down), ensuring compliance and retaining top talent. If you can align discussions around these core commitments and show value in your overall vision for your company, from an information technology standpoint CFOs are much more likely to be engaged.
Take a long-term view: By now this will sound like a broken record, but current priorities would be to drive up efficiency and cut costs, but at the same time always improve productivity. This does not mean do not invest, but it does mean ensure there is strong value in each investment and cut the fat where possible. Prioritise and invest in projects that will put the company in a better position coming out of the economic slowdown. Keep in mind that CFOs rarely make a short-term decision if there are negative long-term consequences, so always be prepared to show value that aligns to the commitments of a CFO. Some projects that come to mind would be:
- Using technology to improve automation and efficiency;
- Cost cutting through vendor consolidation — more leverage, less support/maintenance costs — and drive your strategy through strong vendors that can provide more.
Keep an eye on the horizon: It’s easy to focus on the immediate issues and short-term fixes, but continue to drive your business around the fundamentals, to help position your company for the future. Historically, companies that make the right investment decisions during slowdowns — while at the same time remaining cost conscious — come out of a market downturn more competitive and reap the rewards of a growing economy. Take measured risks, align yourself with great partners/vendors, determine your strategy for the next five years and take action now. This is the time to identify ways to increase your company’s ability to compete. Decisions a CFO and CIO make today, can have the ability to cripple or have a big payoff as the New Zealand market emerges from this current slowdown.
Join the CIO New Zealand group on LinkedIn. The group is open to CIOs, IT Directors, COOs, CTOs and senior IT managers.