The CFO is increasingly becoming the top technology investment decision maker in many organisations, according to a joint survey conducted by Gartner, Inc. and Financial Executives Research Foundation (FERF). According to the annual study, more IT organisations report to the CFO than the CEO or any other executive. Forty-two percent of IT organisations surveyed said that they reported to the CFO, and 53% of CFOs said that they would like to move to this reporting arrangement.
The 2010 Gartner/FERF technology study received 482 responses to approximately 50 questions that covered senior finance managers' views of technology. The survey was conducted from late October 2009 through January 2010. More than 74% of the respondents were senior financial executives, including CFOs and controllers.
"Where the CIO should report is a question as old as the CIO role itself," says John Van Decker, research vice president at Gartner. "CFO reporting can lead to success if the CFO has a deep understanding of IT's value." The joint study found that 42% of organisations said their IT department reports to the CFO, 33% to the CEO, 16% to the COO, 2% to a chief administrative officer and 7% to other officers. This was fairly uniform across companies of all sizes, although the percentages reporting to the CEO in large organisations were higher, though the groups still reported to the CFO in greater percentages.
In 41% of organisations, the senior financial executives (mostly CFOs) who responded to the survey viewed themselves as being the main decision maker for IT investments. This response occurred in most situations where IT reports to the CFO, but it also occurred in other reporting models. In another 34%, CFOs are among the key recommending/sponsoring executives. Thus, in 75% of firms, the CFO plays a vital role in determining IT investment. In addition, 20% of CFOs have a minor role by providing some input, and in only 5% of cases does the CFO not participate in IT decision making.
"In most organisations, the CFO and CIO work together daily to finance IT and provide information that supports financial processes, but there is also an opportunity for them to form a powerful alliance that generates more value for the enterprise," notes Bill Sinnett, director of research at Financial Executives Research Foundation. "The CFO and CIO are well-positioned to work together at generating superior performance from the enterprise."