IT, CFOs Struggle Over Control

Conflict between the IT department and financial directors over who is directing the IT strategy is holding back process and power companies' IT progress, according to the results of an industry provider's survey.

Cadcentre, an engineering IT solutions provider, with 500 financial directors and IT managers in eight countries throughout the oil, nuclear energy, paper and pharmaceutical and chemical process industries, conducted the survey.

Of financial directors who responded, 69 per cent said that technology is now too complex for most IT departments to handle on their own and should be outsourced to third-party experts. However, 58 per cent of IT managers felt that they were able to cope and that IT should be kept in-house.

Wes Kosior, IT leader for Huntsman Chemical, said the functions that should be outsourced or handled in-house depends on the type of business.

"IT is becoming more complex due to the network. At my company we have a mixture of both outsourcing and insourcing. Some things make no sense to insource, but with things like desktop and helpdesk, this should be a business-by-business decision."

In an industry that is susceptible to project overruns and excess stock holdings, and in which efficiencies have been shown up through the use of e-procurement, ordering and billing, only 2 per cent of IT managers surveyed thought e-business was a matter of concern.

Forty-three per cent of financial directors said the board should be responsible for e-business strategy; 33 per cent of IT managers felt this was their department.

Kosior said: "E-business certainly occupies a lot of reading time for IT professionals, but it is not out there in a great amount. We have an e-commerce manager who focuses on building relationships.

"I don't think the e-business strategy should be driven by the IT manager, it is a business decision. The commercial needs of the business should come first, while working with the IT department."

According to the survey, 17 per cent of IT managers said there was a lack of synergy between IT and the business while 20 per cent said they were not being informed at all about what was happening in the company. In contrast, financial directors said they were not aware of the IT departments' frustration and 19 per cent felt that government legislation and a lack of vision within the boardroom were the main reasons why their company was not progressing.

Richard Longdon, managing director for Cadcentre, said: "This confusion over who is running the company's IT strategy is damaging to a company's competitiveness. The IT manager and the financial director need to work out how they can communicate better and take advantage of the benefits afforded by today's IT."

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