It’s time for CEOs and executive directors, if they haven’t already, to ask themselves why putting IT under finance makes any more sense than putting finance under IT.
A new survey of nonprofit leaders found their organization’s IT departments largely reside within operations or finance departments, and a majority of the managers heading IT are reporting to COOs and CFOs.
IT directors, who do you report to? According to a new poll of nonprofit leaders, only 13 percent of you are reporting to the CEO.
Far more of those in charge of IT are reporting to the COO or CFO (both 38 percent). The poll, conducted by nonprofit accounting firm Tate & Tryon, CPAs and Consultants, also found that 34 percent of nonprofit IT departments are housed within the operations department and 25 percent are housed within finance departments.
That finding is similar to one in the 2011 ASAE Benchmarking in Association Management: Technology Policies and Procedures report, which found the IT function resided within the finance/administration department for 31 percent of associations.
But unlike the Tate & Tryon poll, ASAE’s benchmarking survey found that among the roughly 1,000 respondents from trade associations and individual member organizations, 41 percent had their highest-ranking IT employee reporting to the CEO. Twenty-seven percent responded that IT reported to the COO, and 23 percent said IT reported to the CFO.
Associations and nonprofits placing IT within finance or operations departments should consider changing that structure to put IT at a more strategic level, wrote Thad Lurie, a managing director of technology consulting services at Old Town IT, in a recent ASAE newsletter article [paywall].
“It’s time for CEOs and executive directors, if they haven’t already, to ask themselves why putting IT under finance makes any more sense than putting finance under IT,” Lurie wrote. “Finance executives are generally not hired to be thought leaders in the innovation and product-development areas. By placing the IT department under finance, the message is loud and clear: Technology is purely an operational concern, and the main focus of technology is cost cutting.”
The Tate & Tryon poll, which is still open, received 32 responses from leaders of professional/trade and philanthropic/charitable nonprofits. Other findings:
- Two-thirds of respondents reported that they forecast their IT budget one year in advance, while the rest forecast two to three years in advance.
- Fifty-six percent of respondents reported spending more than $400,000 on IT.
- Roughly one out of five respondents disagree that the role or function of IT is clear within their organization.