Improve collaboration between finance and IT to drive growth

Accounting

Two common misconceptions I hear all the time are that the finance team only looks for ways to reduce spending, and that we’re always saying “No” to new initiatives, like adding new software. Neither are true. 

While the finance team should question budget requests and determine ROI, the main focus should be to drive revenue, not necessarily cut costs. Ultimately, finance teams want to approve sound investments that, when properly structured, will help the business grow.  

With this in mind, here are some suggestions for organizations and leaders to consider to improve collaboration between their finance and IT teams to accelerate business success.  

Empowering collaboration early in the planning process

When the necessary discussions around the cost and impact of new software happen too late in the process, they are not as strategic as they could be. Instead, they end up being task-oriented and organizations miss out on potential benefits because they’re left with disrupted workflows, delays in overall progress and wasted resources. 

To power productivity and success, finance teams should be included in the early stages of planning and implementation for new software. Including your organization’s CFO and key finance team members early in the planning process ensures they can start thinking proactively about the impact this investment will have on the bottom line for the business. 

For example, you can consider establishing checkpoints at each stage of the process to hold individuals accountable, afford leaders the opportunity to work through potential concerns or hurdles, and keep teams aligned. While IT possesses key data about software integration, security and overall performance, the finance team can provide an additional perspective, and it is important they have a seat at the table.

CFOs may have experience with a particular technology themselves, or they may suggest more detailed forecasting regarding the impact of specific software, to help paint a better picture of its future impact on total revenue or cost savings. This insight is equally valuable and complements the work your IT team does in identifying potential new technology investments.

Reframing software as a growth driver, not a cost

In the digital era we’re living in, businesses cannot underestimate the value of disruptive technology and should view it as a growth driver, not just another cost the organization must incur. Like any other potential growth driver — like new employee headcount or M&A activity, for example — the time to implementation should be as quick as possible, and can only be accomplished with cross team cooperation. 

Take this stat for example: One in 40 organizations now suffers a ransomware attack every week. This demonstrates just how important it is for businesses to stay ahead of threats as soon as possible. When implementing new data protection software, it should be considered a proactive measure against a potentially catastrophic data breach, downtime or information loss — all of which can cost millions to recover from. 

Similarly, the implementation of a new sales enablement platform should not be considered an expense, as much as it should be considered a way to boost sales and overall business growth.

When both teams are on the same page about the impact new solutions can have on your organization’s operations and performance, finance and IT leaders can act as partners, not adversaries.

The functions of IT and finance teams are critical to any organization’s success, as they are responsible for steering strategy and growth. Transforming this relationship into one that is strategic, rather than transactional, can empower dramatic long-term success. 

By prioritizing the integration of these teams, the CFO and the rest of the finance team can provide strategic advice, and act as more of a partner to IT and the business as a whole. Encouraging cross-collaboration across your organization not only unlocks new ideas and powers productivity, but bolsters security, technology investments and business operations and ensures a successful future for your organization.

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