With 2024 underway, CFOs and controllers across the nation — including you — are reviewing their professional New Year’s resolutions and are already working diligently to drive their organizations forward.

While your 2024 to-do list likely includes tasks like streamlining financial processes and making your organization more fiscally nimble, there is another objective you need to add to your list, and that is improving the connection and collaboration between IT and finance, two departments that, traditionally, have operated in vacuums.

Of course, you may reach out to IT when you have a tech issue, and the team may connect with your leadership team if they need budgetary approval for a new initiative, but that’s not collaboration —  it’s coexistence. When IT and finance truly collaborate, you can garner unmatched visibility into digital spending.  

The Need for Synergy

Digital spending encompasses a broad range of investments, from cloud services and cybersecurity to data analytics and AI-driven tools. Nevertheless, with technology evolving at such a rapid pace, you face the challenge of allocating resources effectively while staying ahead of the curve, but that is where the combined knowledge of your finance and IT teams becomes incredibly valuable. 

As a CFO or controller, you bring financial and budgetary acumen to the table, and CIOs offer insights into technological trends and needs. In turn, they can help you determine what tech investments you need to make today and what IT expenses you should prepare for in the near future. 

A few ways that you can achieve synergy between finance and IT are as follows:

Start with the Budget

Begin your shift toward enhanced collaboration by stepping into your wheelhouse: budgeting. 

As you are well aware, IT budgets are convoluted and difficult to decipher, but by working together, you and the IT team can develop a more transparent and comprehensive budgeting process. Furthermore, you’ll be able to set clear priorities, identify cost-saving opportunities, and ensure that every digital investment is strategically planned and accounted for. 

Getting the budget right makes life easier for everyone. You’ll spend less time crunching IT numbers to figure out digital spending, and those in the IT department itself will have a greater understanding of the resources available to them. 

Optimize Expenditures

One of the biggest benefits of improving collaboration is the opportunity for expenditure optimization. CIOs are not oblivious to the budget, but it’s not their priority either; they are focused on pursuing technological innovations that propel the business forward while simultaneously ensuring the IT needs of all employees are met.

You, on the other hand, have an eye for numbers and (more importantly) sources of waste. You can pinpoint inefficiencies and find ways to reduce costs without compromising innovation, be it negotiating contracts with vendors, investing in scalable cloud solutions, or identifying underused resources that can be reallocated or eliminated. 

Align Digital Investments With Business Goals 

When finance and IT teams are on the same page, it becomes much easier to achieve strategic business objectives. That said, CFOs and CIOs must work together to understand how each technology investment serves the border business strategy. It is an alignment that is crucial for justifying IT expenditures and ensuring that these investments yield tangible business benefits.

For example, if your company’s goal is to improve customer experience, IT investments should be directed toward technologies that enhance customer engagement and satisfaction, like CRM systems or AI chatbots. Similarly, if your top priority is to increase operational efficiency, the organization should pursue investments in automation and artificial intelligence tools.

The Role of Data and Analytics

Data and analytics processes lay the foundation for effective collaboration. Finance and IT teams can jointly leverage data to gain insights into spending patterns, the ROI of digital investments, and areas for cost savings. In other words, you and the CIO can use analytics reports to speak one another’s language.

Furthermore, the use of dashboards and real-time reporting tools can provide both of your departments with a clear view of digital spending, promoting transparency and accelerating decision-making processes.

Collaboration Challenges and How to Overcome Them

Though there are clear benefits associated with collaboration between IT and finance, tearing down what may be long-standing communication barriers can prove difficult. Variations in language and priorities can cause misalignment, as can divided or compartmentalized workforces. If your organization has adopted a remote or hybrid work model, getting everyone’s schedules aligned to discuss objectives can be a nightmare.

Overcoming these hurdles requires that both departments commit to open, frequent communication and a shared understanding of each other’s roles and objectives, but as always, change starts at the top. Meet with the CIO and express your interest in improving collaboration in the new year. Together, the two of you can develop a cohesive plan that unites your departments for the good of the organization.

Don’t Just Coexist — Collaborate

When your IT and finance teams collaborate, your organization gains a definitive advantage in today’s digital-first world. By working together, you and the IT leadership can ensure that digital spending is both efficient and aligned with the company’s long-term goals. 

Additional Resources

The Traditional and Emerging CFO-CIO Relationship Dynamic

Building Business Agility: How Finance & IT Leaders Can Guide Decisions Amidst Evolving Market Conditions

5 Ways CIOs & CFOs Can Partner for Digital Success