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IT infrastructure strategy and priorities for the CFO


By: Eric Bruno


The chief financial officer (CFO) of any corporation is primarily focused on numbers, money, and financial risk. When it comes to record keeping and quarterly and fiscal reporting, the CFO role is at the forefront of the organization. But focusing on these duties as they ostensibly should have made CFOs obsolete and in some cases a financial burden to their organizations. Let's explore this controversial point and look for ways to fix it when it comes to IT infrastructure strategy.


Business success has IT innovation at the heart"Software is eating the world"

A while back, Marc Andreesen explained that software companies are poised to take over large areas of the economy. Andreesen also suggested that analysts should move away from a financial view of company valuation and toward a technology view instead. In fact, even traditional non-IT businesses such as agriculture need programmers, IT staff, and software visionaries. This means that the entire C-level suite needs to take an IT-driven approach to their jobs. Beyond the CTO and CIO, even the CFO needs to ensure all financial investments are driven by IT objectives. Correct prioritization, business alignment, and customer involvement are key to success here. In support of this, I propose that the CFO maintain seven IT-driven priorities when making strategic business investments.


Priority 1: Leverage project portfolio management

Project portfolio management (PPM) is an approach to ensuring all your resources are aligned with your global business objectives. This includes ensuring all your internal processes, resources, and IT directly support your business initiatives. Today's PPM tools help the CFO move beyond spreadsheets and integrate accurate, corporate-wide data that includes idea management, resource management, project status, human resources and skill sets, and global IT capacity and capabilities. This is a lot to track, and tools are critical. In the end, generated reports tell you if your IT projects directly support your business initiatives and if you have the proper human and IT resources to implement them.


Priority 2: Trust your business analytics

Does your business strategy influence your organizational processes, or is it the other way around? Perhaps it's a little bit of both. Analytics takes your key business and process data and helps you find the hidden meaning within it. This includes discovering process inefficiencies, holes in your product offerings, and ways to find new customers and sell additional products and services to existing customers. The key is finding the truth in the data and trusting the findings of the analytics. Often, the right technology and partners can help.


Priority 3: Create reference architectures

For each key business initiative, make sure you have the proper governance in place to enable a unified view and approach to deliver on your vision. Reference architectures for each area help visualize and guide the entire organization. The CFO will need to work directly with the CTO and chief architect in this area.


Priority 4: Frequent resource capability assessments

Supported by the PPM effort, CFOs should constantly assess the organization's existing people, technology, and infrastructure. If any one of these doesn't support the business objectives, they'll be difficult to implement efficiently. Your IT infrastructure strategy needs to align with your objectives. Understanding business priorities is key, leading us to the next priority.


Priority 5: Take an agile, prioritized approach

Based on customer feedback loops, where constant collaboration with customers is encouraged and reported from each facet of the organization, agile helps you prioritize your business strategy and implementation. This is key in conjunction with priorities one and four.


Priority 6: Implement business process management

When resourcing, prioritization, and architecture are in place, it's important to automate internal business workflows. This includes the systems of supporting and reporting within your own organization. Automating processes as a result will help you efficiently discover what adjustments need to be made along the way.


Priority 7: Enable DevOps

Automation works externally as well as internally, especially when it comes to customer product delivery or DevOps. Reducing bottlenecks in your deployment processes through DevOps tools and automation not only makes you more efficient and nimble but also reduces the potential for human error. All this reduces costs and risk—right in the CFO's wheelhouse of duties.


The result: Preparation and financial responsibility

Remember to stick to the overall business plan but adjust the details based on learning along the way. By following a strategy based on the priorities above, your CFO will be ready to report the past, as well as prepare your organization for the future. These include both direct and indirect activities:

  • Discover what the future holds through agile, DevOps and BPM
  • Understand your organizational capabilities and resource readiness through PPM
  • Create a deliberate plan through analytics and governance



About the author

Eric BrunoEric Bruno


Eric Bruno is a computer scientist skilled in the art and science of full life cycle, large-scale software architecture, design, and development. His accomplishments span client/server development, highly distributed development, multi-tiered web development, real-time development, and transactional software development. He writes and speaks often on software architecture and development related topics.

About the author

Connect with Eric:

 Follow me on Twitter ericjbruno

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Very good article I benefited a lot of them

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