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Tips from Microsoft: How Finance & IT Can Find Common Ground

  • By Andrew Deichler
  • Published: 6/3/2015

REDMOND, WA -- Tuesday morning at a special press event at the Microsoft Retail Experience Center, Susan Hauser, corporate vice president, enterprise and partner group for Microsoft, provided insights on how corporate treasurers, CFOs and boards can work closer with IT.

Many companies still have siloed structures in which there is little interaction between IT and treasury, finance and senior leadership, Hauser explained. But with the rapid evolution of technology and the emergence of increasingly powerful cyberthreats, it is becoming more and more apparent that every group within the organization should have a relationship with IT.

Hauser explained that Microsoft regularly works with CEOs, CFOs, boards and other top executives and shows them ways that technology can grow their business. In the past, she said, when Microsoft would host customers at its facilities in Redmond, companies would send only their IT people. “Now, it’s a rarity that IT comes alone,” Hauser said. “It’s always IT and the business. We’re seeing more CEOs, CFOs, and entire boards. We’re seeing more and more boards coming here to understand how technology is helping to grow the business.”

Treasury and finance professionals also need to be in lockstep with IT. Microsoft has been meeting with many CFOs lately and providing them with a glimpse into how the company has brought finance and IT together in its own business, Hauser explained.

Hauser provided AFP with some best practices for treasury and finance professionals who are looking for ways to improve their working relationship with their IT teams.

Find areas where you can innovate. Treasury and finance professionals no longer just look for ways to cut costs. Today, corporate leadership expects these functions to innovate. Therefore, finance and IT need to pinpoint the areas where they can bring value and partner on them. “As we think about finance, and particularly with our own CFO, there’s always the pressure of, ‘How can I continue to drive efficiencies so I can invest in innovation?’” Hauser said. “There was a time when you could just focus on efficiency, but that’s no longer really acceptable.”

Find the blockers. Conversely, finance and IT can find some common ground if they recognize the areas that keep both groups from innovating, such as strict regulation, and work together to overcome them. Hauser noted that Microsoft recently put together an advisory board consisting of banks that meets regularly to address regulations that have kept them from taking advantage of some new technologies.

“It’s really about bringing them together and having the right scenarios and really hit what’s important,” Hauser concluded. “It’s getting to the heart of the business and then showing what’s the path to get there.”

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