Based on some comments on a prior post entitled, "Keep Moving CIOs Into the Boardroom and Out of the Server Room" , I thought it would be good to share some thoughts about an article in CFO magazine's winter 2004 issue that talks about how CFOs agree on the value of IT but disagree on how to measure and manage it.
On the one hand, a very large 70% of finance executives indicated that the finance-IT relationship is important in achieving business alignment. That said, less than half said the IT expenditures produced the ROI they expected. Yet on the other hand, more than half quant-head CFOs themselves said productivity gains are there but hard to quantify.
Now if a majority of those in finance are saying return on ROI investments are hard to quantify, then that says to me that 1) there is room for improving in communications between CFOs and CIOs, 2) the measurement problem is a difficult nut to crack, and 3) there is room for improving the way finance and IT work together.
Now the CFO article goes into some discussion about governance structures, etc., but what I find striking about companies are the stark differences between working with companies that have finance organizations where the CFO or controller is a down-and-in type person involved with operations and IT versus cases where the heads of finance that are removed from the operational IT aspects and focused on pure accounting stuff. Sometimes it is a matter of division of labor and the nature of the company. Sometimes I think its a matter of comfort zone and making steps to improve learnings about the other disciplines. When's the last time your finance and IT organizations had an ice cream social? When's the last time one has attended a business school class on mixing finance and IT?