The inability of CIOs to get a handle on “CFO speak” does not only hinder communication between the business and IT side of the company which could affect the performance and bottom line of the company, it can also be a serious barrier to IT managers seeking take their carriers to the next level.
One of the problems, according to Jason Dimaio, consultant of at Dimaio Associates and a former director of IT for White Energy, is that IT managers and CIOs typically focus on solving problems but tend not to listen and find out what issues business executives want to be solved.
“I forgot about how to ask questions,” he admitted in a recent Spice Works virtual event. “I kept offering solutions that were not aligned to their business.”
It’s an attitude that can have some serious consequences.
“I kept offering solutions that were not aligned to their business,” said Dimaio. “The business decided not to value them.”
The takeaway here is: first learn to listen in order to be understood.
CIOs also tend to be intimidated by CFOs, according to Darren Schoen, director of technology at the Broward Centre for Performing Arts.
There’s really no reason to be “if you talk to them in a language they understand” and IT and business start working together,” he explained in a recent interview with Networkworld.
Schoen also provided four ways that CIOs can improve communication and collaboration with their CFOs:
Control the options – In pitching solutions for a project, it’s best to research and put forward at least two or more options. Schoen said this provides CIOs the “illusion” that they have several choices and that they have greater control over the decision.
Justify expenses – Be prepared to justify every dollar you are asking for. Anticipate questions that you might be asked and consider talking about these issues before you are asked.
CFO are typically not interested about the technical stuff, according to Schoen, they just want to know how much it will cost.
Don’t get too technical – When you are asked a technical question, there’s no need to dive deep into the configuration and fibre stuff. Keep it simple and avoid overloading the CFO.
For practice, get a family member to try out you pitch on. This will help you gauge which parts business executives may have some difficulties with.
The CFO makes the decision – Again, the CFO needs to know that he is the one making the decision. Give options “skewed toward the best solutions” to make it easier for the CFO to decide and feel they are they are part of the process and that they’ve chosen the right option.
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