I work in IT and frequently we are under very odd departments. I have worked under Maintenance, Operations, Finance, and even in our own department, separate, directly under the president. Many organizations don’t know where to put the IT department so it becomes a game of “which VP do I want to manage this” or “which VP knows them most about computers” and frequently that answer becomes finance/accounting. This leads a corporation down a very bad path that on the surface, initially, looks very good.
When the VP of finance or CFO is placed over IT the first year or two costs go down, efficiency appears to go up, and the company seems to be functioning the same as always. All these appear as good trends and the CEO/President is often pleased, praising the CFO and IT. But eventually the problems show, causing issues, eventually harming the company’s productivity and bottom line. This is due to the conflicting demands the finance department has within every company.
The best VP of Finance is excellent at cutting costs and questioning spending. They are often, in smaller businesses, also the controller, one of his jobs is to control spending. IT however must always purchase and expand or the company will be constricted by its ability to process data. When the director of IT says to their boss that some item or purchase is needed, the first response of the CFO is to try and prevent the expense. Are there cheaper options, can we do without it, can we do the job with current equipment are many of the questions that must be answered and often with a proper business case and fully defensible numbers and facts.
Many times IT looks to the future and, using experience and general industry guidelines, recommends an option that not only fits the “now” but also the tomorrow. There aren’t numbers to prove every assumption and prediction that an experienced IT team will try to plan for so the worst happens, IT must fit their needs into the budget given by an executive who has the primary function of managing the money of the organization. They are hamstrung and the whole business suffers.
I wish owners and CEO’s would keep their IT departments separate from other departments to give them a fighting chance to request and obtain the resources they need. Also, please don’t put any non-finance operations under your VPoF or CFO, they have enough managing the money of the company without having to deal with anything else, especially outside their expertise. Don’t make IT a department’s step child, give it its own home.