Is the CFO the key stakeholder to impress when making IT and security budget requests?

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VP in Construction, 51 - 200 employees
Often the CFO has no technical background—though there are some who might—but he still ends up winning the heart of the CEO. Let’s say your team is waiting for funding and it keeps getting delayed because the CFO keeps cutting the budget. If you request $100K, he's cutting it to $70K, telling you that he knows your job better than you and you shouldn't be able to spend up to $100K. He has no idea about what you want to do; he's just a finance person.

Because the CEO wants to save money, he agrees with giving you 70% of what you need. You are asked to work with less than what you need and it's painful because you spend more time trying to cut corners in order to achieve your goal. At the same time, you get blamed for the consequences of doing so; but if you had been given full funding, you would have achieved all your goals.
President and National Managing Principal in Software, 501 - 1,000 employees
Even if the CFO doesn't have the knowledge and insight—and they rarely do—they have the power and the influence. I had an issue where someone was asking for more resources in a particular geography than was justified by the business. I was not against investing in a particular market but the problem was that it cuts down on credibility. The minute the CFO can point to someone and say, "They're throwing out inflated numbers," that impacts credibility and makes it even tougher to have those conversations.
Director of Engineering in Software, 11 - 50 employees
We were trying to hire an exceptional person and the associated cost was huge. Our CFO did not approve it, so we ended up hiring two resources and the cost was even higher than what we would have incurred by hiring that single resource. Decisions like that need to be put on the table, especially when it's a technical issue. Somebody who’s involved in the technical aspects needs to be part of the conversation. Otherwise, the cost that we have to bear as a consequence is huge. Hiring two resources in this case looked like a small cost at first but considering that the amount of time required to get things done increased, it turned out to be more expensive.
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President and National Managing Principal in Software, 501 - 1,000 employees

The challenge going forward is figuring out how we can better educate the CFO or president, whoever the decision maker is on that end. We're going through something similar with our raise process. I am pushing our human capital and finance team to give better raises than they were hoping to give, which at least were budgeted within the financial model. They were still going to be good raises but at the same time, with all the turnover in the industry, I said, "Listen, if somebody leaves, we're going to pay more to replace them.”

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CTO in Software, 201 - 500 employees
Without a doubt - Technical Debt! It's a ball and chain that creates an ever increasing drag on any organization, stifles innovation, and prevents transformation.
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