With such high stakes involved, the organisational boundaries between finance and IT have always been subject to executive friction, often arising from not just technical and business misunderstandings, but the clash of cultures that can occur between the different functions.
Recently, our sister site Finance Week explored the Finance-IT relationship with Gordon Lovell-Read, the chief of specialist training organisation CIO Development. From his work with senior technology executives, Lovell-Read has identified four different types of CIO. Understanding their characteristics and knowing how best to approach them can make a real difference to building a successful relationship.
“Identifying which category an IT executive falls into has already proven to be of great use to them in building their strengths and addressing areas for improvement. Making the same level of understanding available to finance directors will unlock new insights into the dialogue with, and deliverables from the IT executive,” said Lovell-Read.
What follows is a short summary of his findings. The links in the article can take you through to fuller descriptions originally published in Finance Week’s articles.
CIO Development’s research categorised senior technology managers into the following four categories, based on their personality types, behaviours and work experiences, the most obvious difference is that the first two types are company outsiders and the other two are company insiders.
- The Paratrooper CIO An experienced technology executive, who has built up skills mostly in other organisations. They come to the role with a mandate for change and a track record that shows they can deliver. You can anticipate a clinical decision-maker who will follow through in spite of potential personal risks.
- The Consultant CIO An experienced general business executive, who’s experience has come mostly in other organisations. “The consultant will probably be the person who knows best what to do and gets on with delivering it in the least disruptive way consistent with the required outcome,” said Lovell-Read.
- The Professional CIO The Professional CIO is an experienced technology executive who has a good track record within your organisation. They know their team, the key players across the business and should have an intuitive sense of what is likely to work or not. They should provide you with a safe pair of hands, but may have limited knowledge of how other companies achieve success or be closely tied to existing policies and practices and be less willing to take risks.
- The Executive CIO will be someone who has spent most of their executive career within your company, but with minimal experience in the technology function. They will know the company’s history of IT success and failure and may have strong views on the company’s strategy and the role for technology. The Executive may have been a vociferous critic of previous IT regimes and will have strong views on how the function should be fixed.