What CFOs Want From IT

You can't run a company without technology, but you can't invest in technology without the blessings of the finance department. And thanks to the stagnant economy, the pendulum of power between Finance and IT is swinging decidedly toward the chief financial officer's door these days.

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"If there's a project needed for our strategic well-being, I don't necessarily [want IT to] put it on a back burner because the economy has taken a downturn," Morrison says.

As a private company that's not driven by quarterly performance, Teknor Apex has the luxury of being able to focus more on long-term results, Morrison acknowledges. But that doesn't mean he can fund IT projects that don't support the corporate agenda -- especially in today's economy.

"Outside of upgrades of hardware, everything we do from an IT perspective is put forth as either being strategic in nature or increasing our efficiencies," Morrison explains.

When the market went south in 2007, Morrison says, the company reduced its head count by 5% to 10%, but at about the same time he OK'd spending $150,000 for software for the credit department. "It was probably one of the best projects we ever did," he says, explaining that it allowed the company to reduce staff in the credit department while improving performance. As a result, the new system paid for itself within two years.

Morrison says those are the kinds of technology investments he'd like to see IT managers bring forward.

"We look at IT as an enabler of a lean company. I don't think there's a function that doesn't feel that the IT systems are absolutely essential to their performance," he says. "So we give them what's needed. They just have to show there's a good return."

Pratt is a Computerworld contributing writer in Waltham, Mass. Contact her at marykpratt@verizon.net.

Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

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