The author of this article, Salo consultant Robin Mauro, is a versatile finance executive with experience in a wide variety of operational and functional FP&A and strategy roles. She’s an expert in the emerging field of technology finance.
Introducing “technology finance”
Technology finance is an emerging finance function, where finance professionals are part of the technology organization, while also supporting the traditional controllership function. As a consultant, I’ve been leading technology finance initiatives for several years at multiple clients. Technology finance is an exciting opportunity for IT departments and finance professionals to collaborate in a whole new way.
A competitive advantage for organizations
The need for large-scale technology projects has been growing steadily. During the last few years, tech teams have been busy updating antiquated legacy systems, developing online customer care systems, and a host of other digital projects. And then, the pandemic hit. Companies needed to pivot quickly to be successful. The need to move many business activities to online and mobile platforms caused the demand for tech work to skyrocket. In fact, at one of my clients the technology budget quadrupled in just a few short years.
Companies understand the need to invest in transformational technology to stay competitive, but tech projects are notoriously difficult for finance to estimate and quantify. That’s where technology finance professionals come in. We work with the technology team every day, so we’re deeply involved in their projects. We’re able to assess value and predict financial impact more effectively and efficiently. Having someone bridge the gap between IT and finance is a distinct advantage—removing funding roadblocks that slow down critical projects, ensuring optimum use of funds, and improving financial reporting and forecasting.
A unique opportunity for finance professionals
It’s no secret that IT teams work differently than traditional finance teams. Finance people—used to steady, predictable processes—can experience whiplash in IT’s constantly evolving and changing environment. It’s just not how finance is set up.
To be a technology finance professional, you need to shift your mindset from common finance practices. But, that’s what’s exciting. It’s an enormous opportunity to get creative and figure out how to:
- Work on agile teams
- Perform analysis in inventive ways
- Create flexible roadmaps, instead of step-by-step, process-oriented plans
- Focus on evolving projects in conjunction with long-term initiatives
- Be the translator between IT and finance
- Shift from CapEx to OpEx as cloud-based solutions evolve and product life cycles shorten
- Estimate labor-driven processes including contractors and vendors, who often don’t bill on a timely basis
- Find effective ways to explain technology initiatives to investors
- Technology is all about innovation, so there are always new and interesting challenges to tackle. For example, at my current client (a worldwide fast-food company), we’ve recently had to figure out the value of technology that moves people through the drive-thru faster.
- Another recent task was explaining to investors why it makes sense to move away from owned servers to cloud-based storage.
It’s a win-win-win situation
Technology finance benefits the IT and finance departments, along with the finance professionals who take on the role. It’s rewarding work that makes a unique and significant contribution to business success.
If you’d like to learn more about technology finance, Salo can help. If your organization is interested in starting (or supplementing) a technology finance group, we’ll connect you to a consultant, like Robin. If you’re an individual interested in a technology finance role, we’d be happy to discuss your career options. Let’s connect!