What to Look for When Recruiting a Cloud IT Financial Manager

June 20 2016 | by Yoav Mor

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The role of the traditional IT financial manager has transformed over the last 30 years. Today an ITFM position demands a far wider range of capabilities. Not only does that person need to be a financial wizard. They also need to be a leader, a business strategist, a compliance expert and a problem solver. And, on top of that, they also need a high level of technical proficiency.

But now the IT landscape is changing yet again, as it moves towards a cloud-based, self-service delivery model. This doesn’t just bring new technical challenges. The switch from capital expenditure (CAPEX) to operational expenditure (OPEX) also presents new financial challenges—and a whole new way of doing business. So if you’re looking to recruit a cloud IT financial manager then what should you be looking for? And what requirements will you specify in your recruitment ad?

Before we consider this in more detail, let’s first look at why you need such a position in the first place. And what a cloud IT financial manager actually does.

Why Do I Need a Cloud Financial Specialist?

A move to the cloud adds a whole new dimension to ITFM. Your IT department will need to deal with a variety of cost models and financial structures that are offered by public cloud vendors. So it needs someone who can understand the logistics of running IT workloads in complex and highly flexible computational environments—and make sound financial judgments accordingly.

Using the latest cloud financial tools and reports, they’ll govern cloud usage across the entire enterprise and allocate costs and chargeback respectively. And they’ll distill the vast array of financial data into a clear, usable form that will help optimize costs in line with the strategic IT needs of your organization.

A financial manager with cloud expertise will also keep abreast of changes to laws that affect the cloud computing industry. This will ensure you comply with the complex national and federal laws on taxation and security compliance.

What Does a Cloud IT Financial Manager Do?

One of the most important aspects of a cloud financial management role is to ensure IT professionals across the enterprise understand the fine balance between performance and cost. The cloud IT financial manager will develop a detailed knowledge of the multitude of optimization options available and continually monitor and analyze usage and utilization levels to make the most efficient use of the company’s IT infrastructure.

But their objectives aren’t just confined to optimizing costs. They’ll also identify ways of leveraging IT to drive future financial growth. For example, they may promote the implementation of DevOps, which will accelerate release times, drive innovation and open up new business opportunities. What’s more, they’ll spot trends, determine growth expectations and make recommendations on the company’s long-term IT financial commitments (e.g., AWS Reserved Instances or Azure monetary commitments).

In addition, your cloud financial manager will support best practice by developing policies and procedures and implementing controls. These will include safeguards to prevent cloud sprawl—a problem where an enterprise runs up massive monthly cloud bills through uncontrolled ordering of instances and other on-demand IT services. But, as your cloud grows and becomes increasingly more complex, a competent ITFM will use the knowledge and tools at their disposal to improve transparency and keep your IT costs in check.

Who’d Be the Ideal Candidate?

A good cloud IT financial manager will possess a rare combination of general and specialist capabilities. First, they need to be a good all-rounder, with excellent communication and relationship skills that are essential for influencing and interacting with others in your organization. At the same, they’ll need to be highly competent in advanced accounting principles and have strong business acumen.

In-depth organizational knowledge and a good understanding of the new cloud landscape are also fundamental requirements, as they’ll need to integrate detailed financial information from a diverse range of IT functions within the business. Moreover, the ideal candidate will have a high degree of computer literacy. This is important for performing complex data analyses and modeling, as well as understanding the needs of IT operations and development.

Suitable candidates are generally degree educated, with a qualification in accounting, business or related discipline. But, more importantly, they’ll have senior-level finance experience.

Invest in Both People and Tools

As your enterprise cloud gradually matures, it’ll become increasingly important to invest in someone with the knowledge and expertise to maintain control, enforce budgets and policies and take responsive action that drives efficiencies. But this should also include investment in online cloud monitoring and financial management tools as these give them the all-important visibility across a complex arrangement of cloud deployments. That way, you’ll also be providing your new cloud IT financial manager with the equipment they need to do their job.

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