The Age of Cloud has Changed the CFO & CIO Relationship

There is a fundamental shift taking place between the CFO and CIO in terms of how internal applications are managed – who owns them, who implements, who maintains – and what are the differences in how this relationship has evolved over time.

Planful, formally known as Host Analytics, Chief Financial Officer, Ian Charles walks us through this shift in our recent webinar the CFO/CIO Relationship in the Age of Cloud.

Before the cloud

To get a perspective of where we are today, it certainly helps to take a look at where we’ve come from.

Prior to cloud applications, IT was in control of a lot, if not all the business applications that we worked with. And there’s very much a “get in line” mentality in terms of how we would work with IT as multiple groups would be in line to have IT resources assigned to their projects. Finance had a great deal of dependency on IT and IT had a great deal of responsibility in supporting these applications. Basically, applications were on-premise and there are 4 reasons why IT had to maintain control of these on-premise applications:

  1. A significant amount of hardware and software to run the applications
  2. Implementation of the applications was required
  3. Integration of the data
  4. Finally, continuing maintenance of these applications

So, a very time-intensive and cost-intensive relationship in what was then. IT had to be innately involved due to the complex nature of on-premise software.

The shift to cloud

When the audience of this webinar was polled with the question – “the business applications in my organization are a) IT owned applications b) business owned applications, c) I don’t know.” The most popular answer with about 62% was business owned applications.

Today, we’re seeing a huge shift to the cloud as we’ve seen in the results of the polling question. We’ve gone from Siebel to Salesforce in CRM. We’ve moved from PeopleSoft to Workday in HR. We’ve moved from Oracle to NetSuite in ERP as well as moving from Hyperion to cloud applications like Planful in continuous planning.

At Planful, we’re in a unique situation of being able to understand this evolving relationship between the CFO and the CIO and be at the forefront of implementing SaaS, business owned applications. At Planful, we use applications like Salesforce, Coupa, Concur, Financialforce, ADP, Avalara, and obviously the Planful Platform for our continuous planning. As you can see here, we don’t have any on-prem applications currently in use at Planful which allows the finance group to own the applications that they are working with. And that has a huge effect on the business.

Finance and IT benefits from cloud

So, what does it mean? Well, the time to value is increased. The speed at which we can get through an implementation is greatly increased because finance doesn’t have to rely on IT for support. There are limited cycles in finance, finance is usually not a large group, and are often asked to do more with less. There just aren’t enough cycles to go through multiple implementations. The increased autonomy with the cloud is highly beneficial to get the day to day work done in finance.

It also allows finance to support the business processes better. Just to give you an example, Planful uses NetSuite for our GL and IT has not had to get involved with the overall maintenance, implementation, or even problems with NetSuite. So, it certainly helps to support the business processes given the fact that finance owns the application.

It’s also good for IT. There’s no hardware or software for IT to purchase and maintain. It reduces the overall infrastructure cost within the organization and eliminates the bottleneck that we often see in waiting in line for IT’s attention.

So in summary, on the CFO side, time to value, increased autonomy and supporting the business is certainly pluses for the CFO. And this relationship also benefits IT in that, again, no hardware and software to support, reduce the overall cost of total cost of ownership, and eliminates those bottlenecks.

Check out the rest of the on-demand webinar as Ian Charles and a panel of CFOs continue the discussion on this changed relationship.

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