If anyone doubts the need for a critical alliance between finance and IT, go see Earl Fry. Fry, who is the CFO at data integration software and services firm Informatica, and has purview over IT, encourages his vice president of finance and the CIO to frequently have lunch together. He says this one-on-one time helps when they have to make critical decisions.
I, like Fry, believe that in order for the business to succeed, finance and IT - two key departments - must have a healthy respect for and trust of one another and communicate their needs clearly.
But where does that cultural change start? A veteran of the finance world, Fry told me he's seeing a shift in attitude the whole way down to the university level where future CFOs are being groomed. "Schools are definitely putting a tech element into finance training. They have classes now that look at data security and lineage and the importance to the financial organisation and reporting," he says. This signals to financial folks that they have a link to IT.
That said, much of today's learning has to be done on-the-job, as technology is moving too fast. Cloud computing, social networks, and mobile devices all are recent IT developments in which finance has to take an interest. Fry agrees and says IT drives initiatives such as Informatica's mobile device policy with significant input from finance.
"We give people reasonable flexibility regarding mobile phones, but require company-issued computers which have been built and configured by IT for obvious security reasons," he says. In addition, all employees are encouraged to use the corporate service provider plan so that finance can get better costing and control over phone usage.
It's surprising when CFOs don't take an interest in IT, considering many have the IT director or CTO reporting into them. Fry says it's easy for him to be engaged because he sees IT as the key to answering the basic corporate question: "How are we going to scale this organisation?"
How is your organisation structured, do finance and IT meet regularly? Let me know at [email protected].