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Engineering Leadership

7 Essential Financial Elements a CTO Must Know

Serghei Goloborodico
Serghei Goloborodico
Senior Technology Consultant

One of the first and most important factors of a Chief Technology Officer’s (CTO) role is to build a partnership with your Chief Financial Officer (CFO).

With this in mind, it may surprise you to know that 2022 Gartner research shows that only 30% of CFOs have a partnership with their CTO.

Financial elements for CTO

As the manager of your organization’s technology initiatives, it’s not only crucial to understand the financial elements but also that the CFO takes an enterprise-level view of how to measure the outcomes and success of your digital initiatives. This can also be vital in avoiding any lag in digital investment.

To help gain the competitive advantage, here are seven key financial things every good CTO should understand to be successful in their role:

  1. Budgeting: A CTO must be involved in the budgeting process to understand the resources that are available to support technology initiatives.
  2. Revenue: They must know how the organization generates revenue and how technology can contribute to revenue growth is critical.
  3. Expenses: A CTO must understand the technology-related expenses and be able to manage them effectively. This includes capital expenditures for hardware and software as well as operational expenses for maintenance and support.
  4. Return on Investment (ROI): Understanding the ROI of technology investments is crucial to making informed decisions about which initiatives to pursue.
  5. Cash flow: A CTO must be aware of how technology initiatives impact cash flow and ensure that investments are aligned with the organization’s cash flow goals.
  6. Financial reporting: A CTO must identify the financial reporting requirements and be able to communicate the impact of technology initiatives on the organization’s financial performance.
  7. Contract negotiation: A CTO must understand the financial terms of technology contracts and be able to negotiate effectively to ensure that the organization gets the best value for its investments.

Without this financial knowledge and alignment with the CFO to share tech strategies, as the budget owner they can’t see the benefits the IT team brings to the organization’s overall performance.


Having a firm understanding and transforming the CTO-CFO relationship shows how digital initiatives contribute to the organization’s value relative to their costs. It is essential for a CTO to manage technology initiatives effectively and ensure these initiatives are always aligned with the organization’s financial goals and contribute to its overall success.

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