4. Get a Financial Manager on Your Team
It’s really important that you get a very strong financial manager on your staff. This can’t be someone “on loan” from finance. This needs to be your person. You need someone by your side, who is on your side, that can go into the financial organization, find all the torpedoes, and come back to you to help work on them so you never get caught on a back foot.
This person can help you translate all of your IT presentations into the right financial language, and match your IT initiatives up with the right business initiatives. Most importantly, this person can show you how you are really spending your money and help you align your budget with what is actually most important to the business. If you have someone on your team doing this analysis and exposing all the stupid places you are spending money “privately”, you can fix it and be a hero by presenting cost reductions proactively.
This person can make sure you are equipped at your CFO meetings with plans and numbers that the CFO can relate to and support. Attempting this on your own without financial support is putting you at a huge disadvantage, and certainly not helping you win over the CFO.
5. Build the Relationship
It will really help to have lunch with your CFO once in awhile. There is a natural adversarial relationship between the CIO and the CFO. This won’t go away, but if you make it a point to get to know each other as people, it makes a big difference. You will still get pressure, but it will be appropriate business pressure, with respect and consideration. If you don’t make it a point to build the relationship, you will be seen only as the leader of a cost center, with less credibility and respect. You will get more hassle and less money.
I have found that even if you don’t like your CFO; if you spend some time with him or her the ongoing business and budget discussions that result will be much more productive.
Patty Azzarello became the youngest general manager ever at HP at the age of 33. She ran HP’s $1B OpenView software business at the age of 35, and was the CEO of an IT software company, Euclid Software at the age of 38. Today, Patty is the CEO of Azzarello Groupa unique services organization that helps companies develop and motivate their top performers, execute their strategies, and grow their business, through talent management programs, leadership workshops, online products & public speaking.