Christopher Koch at CIO magazine, as part of the research for their annual “state of the CIO” survey, did some number crunching about whether businesses benefit by having their CIO report to the CFO or directly to the CEO.  Excellent Work!

“I’ve been crunching the numbers for weeks now and the results are more disconcerting than I ever imagined. Having the CIO report to the CFO destroys value in nearly every possible way. Just check out this list, from our survey of over 500 IT leaders…”

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Why should it matter to you?  After all, the CIO is so far removed from some of us that it’s hard to fathom how HIS reporting relationship can affect your day to day work…

Answer: Because the job market for IT is heating back up.  If you are an IT developer and you are working for a business where the CIO reports to finance and not to the rest of the business, you are reporting to a leader who has been intentionally made less effective by the senior management of the business.  Perhaps you will have interesting work to do.  That’s entirely possible, but it’s also possible (quite likely) that the work you are doing is less stragetic than it could be, and contributes less value (or more cost) to the bottom line of the company than it should.

So if you want to learn how to be strategic… which company should you choose to work at?  One where the CIO can make sure that projects occur that raise the level of excellence in IT, or one where the CIO spends most of his time trying to convince middle-level managers that they shouldn’t have their own instance of SAP because they feel like they are special? 

 Hint: the former is better than the latter.

By Nick Malik

Former CIO and present Strategic Architect, Nick Malik is a Seattle based business and technology advisor with over 30 years of professional experience in management, systems, and technology. He is the co-author of the influential paper "Perspectives on Enterprise Architecture" with Dr. Brian Cameron that effectively defined modern Enterprise Architecture practices, and he is frequent speaker at public gatherings on Enterprise Architecture and related topics. He coauthored a book on Visual Storytelling with Martin Sykes and Mark West titled "Stories That Move Mountains".

2 thoughts on “Should IT report to the CFO?”
  1. My name is Al Sacco and I’m a writer with  In addition to Mr. Koch’s blog posts on the subject, we also have on our site a handy guide to boss relations, including a section on the CIO/CFO Relationship. Though aimed mostly at the IT exec, the guide also includes valuable insights for non-tech staffers, including articles on how to tell your boss you’re overworked, how to read his facial expressions–or anyone else’s–and a piece on how to tell you’re about to get fired.

    Check it out for more on the CIO/CFO Relationship:

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