If IT has an archenemy in an organization, it's usually finance. We have strategies and solutions that can help make the business more efficient, but accountants are often too concerned with the bottom line. Here's how one CIO deals with accountants.
One of the bad things about IT, at least from a dollars-and-cents view, is that implementing technology doesn't come cheap. Because finance and accounting's entire role revolves around making sure that corporate dollars are used efficiently and because they're often tasked with increasing short-term quarterly profits rather than long-term investments, often their goals come in conflict with those of IT. Getting new systems approved for purchase can sometimes turn into an epic battle.
When I was a network administrator for a manufacturing company, finance had its hands so much in IT that I reported to the local finance director in a dotted-line fashion at the same time I did our IT manager. This often led to conflicts of trying to justify purchases and figuring out how to expense and move things around to keep the accountants happy. This isn't an unusual occurrence, and it's affecting CIOs as well. An article in BNET discusses the increasing trend of CIO's reporting to CFOs in organizations.
Your organization is probably the same way. In order to get things approved by finance, you need to have a strategy. The one that usually works best involves putting the technology in terms that they can understand. A properly written business case and well-defended return on investments (ROIs) can help finance people understand the needs for the big bucks you're trying to extract from them.
Let's go to the video
This video comes from ZDNet's CIO Vision series. The CIO Vision series features interviews with CIOs across many different organizations and discusses the challenges they face on a day-to-day basis.
This particular video features Millennium & Copthorne Hotel Vice President for IT, Eli Salant. Mr. Salant discusses some of the innovative technlogies that they use in the hotel business to help make customers' stays better. In particular, he discusses how he convinced board members to spend on technology instead of refurbishments. He also discusses using ROI as a weapon against accountants who are too focused on current expenses instead of long-term investments.
How do you deal with finance?
How do you get purchases past the head bean counter in your organization? Is finance on your side, or do you have to battle with them on a regular basis to get technology approved? Share your strategies in the comment section below.