Are CFO’s running IT?

My Spending Money By Jake Wasdin on flickrI just read an article describing the results of a Gartner survey of Chief Financial Officers and their opinions of IT and CIO’s. The article –  CFOs increasingly calling the shots in IT from CIO magazine’s UK website – reports some very disturbing results.

Before I report on the results, let’s look at the survey itself. According to the article, the survey was:

a survey of 344 CFOs at North American companies involved in manufacturing, financial services, healthcare, energy, transportation and other fields. The survey, conducted by the professional organisation Financial Executives International in tandem with Gartner, sought to find out what CFOs think about use of information technology in their companies and the people who provide it. They weren’t that happy.

A few highlights (as reported in the article):

  • About a quarter of the CFOs had confidence that their own IT organization
  • 25% [of CFO’s] see the CIO as a key player in determining the business strategy
  • 18% of the CFOs said they thought “our IT service levels meet or exceed business expectations.”
  • 42% of IT organisations now report directly to [the] CFO
  • 35% of the CFOs viewed IT as being a strategic driver of business performance.

A few interesting results having to do with the authorization of IT investments:

  • 29% of the respondents said it’s a steering committee of IT and business executives.
  • 26% said it’s the CFO alone authorizing IT investment, up from 18% last year.
  • 25% says it’s the CIO and CFO together.
  • In 11% of organisations, it’s still the CIO alone.

I don’t know about you, but I’m a little worried by all these results.  Only 25% of the respondents had confidence in their IT group?  Only 18% thought their IT group met or exceeded expectations?

Now…I’m not really worried that the CFO seems to be taking control of IT…but I am worried about the perception that the CFO’s have towards IT.  Note: I have no issue with the IT group reporting into the CFO – or COO – or CEO – doesn’t matter…what matters to me is that the CIO and IT groups are able to do their jobs and are appreciated for the work they do.

If I were a CIO today, I’d make a beeline to the CFO’s office and try to understand how the CFO of my organization views me and my team.    I’d also make sure everyone else in the organization knows what I and my team were doing today and planning for the future.

I’m looking for a copy of the full survey – but I doubt I can find it since I don’t have an account with Gartner…I’d love to see the questions and results to the entire survey. I’d like to be able to see how the questions were asked and answered.

Do these numbers jive with what you’re seeing in your company? Are you seeing CFO’s taking more control over IT?

Image Credit: My Spending Money By Jake Wasdin on flickr


  • andrewmeyer32


    this is pretty much in line with what I’ve seen. I don’t think IT’s done a very good job of articulating a vision and executing it. Things that would gain IT respect:

    1. A budget that they stick to.

    2. Metrics used to evaluate a project. Ideally, I’d like to see the metrics identified before the project starts and those same metrics should be used to measure the success of a project as it goes along and completes.

    3. CIOs and project managers take a personal hit when a project fails. In some cases, they should be fired, but far more often they should take personal responsibility. If a project succeed (this is so unlikely, I’m not even sure why I’m listing it), the PM should get a monetary reward. If the project fails, the CIO should have some of their salary clawed back, all bonuses paid while the project was ongoing should be clawed back and no bonuses should be paid for the year the project completes or is killed.

    4. Projects should have realistic gates, they should be evaluated at that gate and killed if they are not going to succeed.

    5. Project must end. Those suckers seem to drag on forever or until people lose enough interest that PMs and other people can transfer off and go onto the next fantasy that someone is pitching.

    This may seem harsh, but there are no teeth in projects. Too many projects are not killed. Too many projects are started without a clear end, clear metrics to evaluate their success and no clear idea about what the total cost will be. Until those metrics come into use and are followed, CIOs and IT are going to slip further and further down the scale. CFOs running IT increase the likelihood that these hard dollar budgets are put into place. If nothing else, a project should have a budget, if it doesn’t come in on or under budget, it should be killed.

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