Finance and IT aren’t on the same page on digital transformation

Accounting

Chief information officers view the expanding scope of the finance function, and its need for technological support, to be directly at odds with their goal of eliminating IT complexity. Yet both CFOs and CIOs agree that greater integration between their two functions is needed to complete a company-wide digital transformation.

These were the conclusions of a recent survey from cloud solutions provider Workday. Lack of integration between IT and finance was the most commonly cited barrier to digital transformation. Sometimes it has to do with who is invited to the meeting, as 41% of finance leaders said the CIO does not have a seat at the table during critical discussions, even when the challenge pertains specifically to technology. Meanwhile, 51% of IT leaders believe their aim to eliminate complexity from IT works at cross purposes with the finance function’s increasingly large scope, which has the potential to introduce new complexity.

This lack of integration has affected how finance leaders make decisions. As 56% lack full confidence in the integrity and usability of their data, 51% of finance leaders said they were forced to make gut decisions despite actually having the data they needed; this was because the information was siloed, nor in the right format or not readily available.

Despite the differences in goals, the survey also found that both finance and IT are in agreement that change is required to meet evolving need, with half of survey respondents overall saying their legacy enterprise planning systems lack the flexibility required for today’s business environment. They also both agreed there needs to be more cross-functional finance and IT skills. Finance departments today are heavily reliant on IT staff to access the data they need for critical decisions, and tend to lack the skills to work with emerging technologies. On the other hand, IT leaders feel under pressure to innovate finance technology despite limited financial literacy, revealing an opportunity for greater training and partnership with finance.

“Data is the fuel for finance transformation, yet many organizations still have challenges when it comes to accessing and trusting data,” said Barbara Larson, Workday’s chief financial officer, in a statement. “As the role of finance continues to expand, the partnership with IT becomes even more critical. Together, finance and IT must continue to drive the data strategy to deliver the access and insights organizations need to thrive.”

The survey poled 1,060 senior finance and IT leaders around the world in March and April 2022.

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