What CFOs want from IT

In tough economic times, when spending decisions require more scrutiny, here's what CFOs would most like to get through to their top technologists

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* Define units of service in terms that the business understands, and show how changes in IT service consumption affect costs.

* Reward IT staffers for lowering the total cost of service.

* Set the prices for IT services to support overall business objectives, such as cost predictability.

* Invest in IT asset management for making resource allocation decisions (not for reacting to audits).

Most of all, CIOs should communicate using the business metrics -- like "decrease unit costs" -- that really matter to the company's leaders, says Saby Mitra, an associate professor in the College of Management at the Georgia Institute of Technology.

--Mary K. Pratt

By the numbers: What CFOs worry about

Is there something IT can do to ease your CFO's mind?

CFOs' top macroeconomic concerns:

1. Weak consumer demand

2. The federal government's agenda

3. Intense price competition

4. Credit markets/interest rates

CFOs' top internal concerns at their own companies:

1. Maintaining profit margins

2. Cost of healthcare

3. Difficulty forecasting results

4. Attracting and retaining qualified employees

Base: 481 chief financial officers in the U.S.; multiple responses allowed.

Source: Duke University and CFO magazine, December 2010

Top risks in the next five years:

1. Financial exposure

2. Supply-chain/logistics disruption

3. Legal liability, reputational harm

4. Technology failure

5. Security breach

Base: 168 senior finance executives; multiple responses allowed.

Source: CFO Research Services and Liberty Mutual Insurance Co., June 2010

This story, "What CFOs want from IT" was originally published by Computerworld.


Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

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