Taking the blame: The CFO/CIO schism

In a survey of 450 CFOs from around the world, including Canada, two-thirds of respondents see business performance management as their priority in the future, according to the survey by IBM Business Consulting Services.

Performance management will have an important place on the CFO’s agenda

in the future, says Tom Whelan, financial management leader for IBM Business Consulting Services (Canada). This is being driven by regulatory challenges and the need for greater transparency in the wake of the U.S.’s Sarbanes-Oxley law and the Canadian equivalent, Bill 198.

More than 53 per cent of Canadian CFOs indicated that information is a major asset that needs to be better managed. However, only 20 per cent of business managers have access to integrated enterprise data to aid in decision making.

Canadian CFOs view this access as critical. However, the survey indicates that Canadian CFOs may be currently behind their global counterparts in availing themselves of technology designed to connect them to other people and information.

An underlying issue is the relationship between CFOs and CIOs. Historically, a conflict was created between CFOs and CIOs, says Doron Cohen, the vice-president and research director of Gartner Financial Services in Toronto. The failure of ERP systems helped define that relationship. CFOs had unrealistic expectations and when CIOs couldn’t deliver, they took the blame. This created bitter feelings among CIOs, he says.

Historically, CFOs also trusted their audit partners more than their CIOs, Cohen adds. “”And many CIOs found it inordinately difficult to work with the CFO, because they relied on the advice that was given to them by the audit partners, to the extent that they ignored the reality that was presented to them by the CIOs,”” he says.

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