The tech tug-of-war

By Sandra Gittlen, CFOWorld.com

This week, I interviewed Joel Feldman, senior director of financial planning and analysis at baked goods company Otis Spunkmeyer. He talked about the move from Microsoft Excel spreadsheets to a SaaS-based system for budgeting. Interestingly, he said that finance led the way on this decision with input from IT. When I asked if IT minded finance choosing a SaaS, he said no, and that they seemed relieved -- because they had their hands full already with other more business-critical projects.

This leads me to wonder if that is going to be the attitude of many IT shops going forward. Many are at a point of exasperation where limited budgets and staffing are making it difficult to keep up with the ever-increasing technology demands of each department. Some would probably be grateful for a business unit leader like Feldman to identify a way to safely offload the care and feeding of an application and underlying infrastructure associated with a specific task.

Feldman pointed out a caveat, though: IT was not already invested in this particular function so they didn’t feel like something was being taken away. What happens when systems such as an ERP start heading out the door? My opinion is that as long as IT gets to keep its strategic role and have influence at the executive table, then handing routine work off to a cloud-based service won’t be such a big deal.

However, IT has built credibility in organizations by having ownership over critical infrastructure. If business units chip away at that territory by subscribing to external services then eventually IT might rebel. It’ll be interesting to see how this plays out in enterprises over time.

Copyright 2011 CFOworld, all rights reserved.

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