Tuesday, July 15, 2003

What's at the top of the CFO's mind regarding information systems?

During my presentation at the AICPA Controllers Workshop last week, I started by asking audience members to indicate their major concerns, issues, or interests when they think about information systems in their companies. Though not formal survey, the spontaneous responses from among the hundred or so participants says much about what's on the mind of CFOs and Controllers these days relative to enterprise systems.

After the workshop, I clustered the responses into logical groups as follows:
  1. Selection and implementation concerns. This was the largest cluster, with 35% of the responses. Comments such as "choosing the right ERP system," "retaining knowledge of the system after implementation," and "on-going support" show that CFOs still view system selection and implementation as a significant undertaking. After many well-publicized implementation failures in the 1990s, this is a good sign.

  2. Reporting was indicated in 17% of the responses, with several participants emphasizing the need to get better access to information locked up in ERP systems.

  3. Integration issues were indicated by 13% of the responses, with special emphasis on combining financial and operational systems. An additional 4% of the responses mentioned auditing of ERP systems for internal controls, which may indicate Sarbanes-Oxley is part the interest in having good integration between financial and operational systems.

  4. Also top of mind is security, mentioned by 13% and ease of use, mentioned by 9%.
Interestingly, only 9% of the responses mentioned cost of IT as a concern, which is surprising considering that the whole audience was CFOs and Controllers. Perhaps it is a sign that software prices have come down, or more likely, that executives are putting more emphasize on the effectiveness and success of systems rather than the pure cost of the technology.

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