…Only if CFOs and CIOs align their requirements and expectations
Cloud computing has been a catalyst in opening up much needed dialogue between CIO and CFO. CFOs are being educated on the opportunities and risks associated with IT. CIOs are being provided options with controllable and scalable costs to reduce risk and increase IT departments’ innovation.
Interestingly their roles have flipped in some ways. More often than not it’s now the CFO who has direct oversight of the IT department and IT-related spend, but it is the CIO who receives the constant flow of both technical and educational user needs, hardware and software patches and updates and the changing needs of the overall business.
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When it comes to the cloud, CFOs, CIOs and other finance and IT group leaders have divergent attitudes to the cloud, and where those differences trigger the most friction and loss of opportunity, is in methods, processes and timing.
Can finance and IT ever be in-sync where cloud is concerned?
Recent research from Saugatuck Technology shows that IT seems more concerned about existing systems capability than finance is, and is more apprehensive than finance about cloud-based systems falling short in areas like consolidation and regulatory requirements. What the research clearly points out is that both finance and IT need to be reassured that the road to the cloud for finance systems takes into account the need for strong financial consolidation and regulatory capabilities.
While strategic IT-Finance synchronisation is necessary at all times, it is not always a critical problem. The research indicates that IT and finance leaders tend to be well aligned on cloud when it comes to the most important areas. The challenge is how to harmonise what they see, how they see it, how they communicate it and how they put things into place. Interpreting cloud capabilities into ways of improving specific finance process effectiveness will be the first step on a years-long journey not just into, but with, cloud.
the majority of new finance systems will be cloud-based or cloud-enabled within the next few years
It is clear that finance, just like IT, thinks there is need and opportunity for improvement in finance systems and operations. And there is no question that the majority of new finance systems will be cloud-based or cloud-enabled within the next few years. The path – or paths – to cloud will shift somewhat as efforts lead to knowledge and experience leads to improved practices, but every realistic scenario includes hybridised on-premises-plus-multiple-cloud environments.
In order to move finance systems to the cloud as securely, effectively, and quickly as possible, we will need to overcome some fairly significant differences in Finance-IT synchronisation. That both camps acknowledge the need for more sophisticated technology for the standardisation of methods, regulatory compliance and the integration of systems, is already an important first step.
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The research shows that overall, while the core IT and finance positions are extremely similar in patterns, IT decision makers have less confidence in current finance management systems, along with greater concern about the consolidation of subsidiaries and the cost of running or upgrading current finance systems. Results also suggest that IT leaders are more positive than Finance leaders about the benefits of Big Data analytics.
Finance is clearly happier with their planning, consolidation and reporting capabilities than IT. So if finance is going to move to a cloud-based system, they need to be sure they don’t compromise on the capabilities of the solution. They need a solution that meets their needs and can easily be extended to address the demands of the future. They absolutely must not compromise on that as they move to the cloud.