Best of 2009: Technology

The editors pick the year's top stories on software, spreadsheets, IT spending, and more.
CFO StaffJanuary 5, 2010

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Like so much else in the CFO’s world last year, the use of information technology in 2009 was shaped and constrained by tight budgets. That meant, for example, that renting software-as-a-service applications became a favored strategy, largely because of their lower costs compared with traditional financial software. An even less-expensive means of filling technology needs — open-source software — also gained allure as companies’ need to save cash trumped their anxieties over using free Web-based applications unsupported by major vendors. Meanwhile, makers of enterprise resource planning systems responded to users’ urgent desire to eliminate waste and save time by offering easier-to-use ERP options.

It was also a year in which companies had to make hard choices about what they could live without. Projects in the pipeline formerly regarded as essential were reclassified as extravagances. That created a certain degree of culture shock in IT managers, who for two decades had seen their budgets do nothing but grow.

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CFO covered these developments and more in 2009. Here is a selection of our most important technology-related articles of the year:


The New Cash Managers

With their companies stung by the credit crunch, finance chiefs are buying software to seize control of their cash and gain leverage with their lenders.

Software’s Temperamental Star

The outlook for on-demand business applications remains promising, but there is room for improvement.

An Open Secret

Open-source software is quietly gaining ground well beyond the data center.

ERP Made Easy?

Software developers are rediscovering the virtues of user-friendliness.


Spreadsheets at Work: Rating Your Own IRR

Some tips for doing these key calculations; and introducing “modified” internal rate of return.

Spreadsheets and IRR: It’s All in the Timing

Overoptimistic or uneven payments can hurt calculations. In the second part of our internal-rate-of-return review, we show how XIRR can help.


Flat Chance

As companies keep IT spending in check, executives have to make some hard choices about what they can live without.

Reaching Deeper for Savings

You may be able to squeeze more out of your IT budget than you realize.

CFOs to CIOs: Get Real

On their wish lists addressed to IT leaders, finance chiefs want more risk-management awareness and better communication on project delivery.


Watching Where You Misstep

Can risk-management software show companies where things are going wrong?

A Defining Moment

Stung by charges that customers never saw risks coming, vendors of governance, risk, and compliance software are rebuilding their image.

Internal Audit: The Continuous Conundrum

A generally accepted definition of “continuous auditing” remains elusive, and expert practitioners remain rare. Here are some tips from the trenches for getting a program going.

Internal Auditing: The 24/7 Approach

Not satisfied with monitoring small data samples, more companies are seeking complete automation of the audit function.


X Marks the Spot, for Errors

Early results indicate that filing financial statements in XBRL is far from simple.

XBRL: The Inside Story

After years of development, data tagging seems little more than a minor financial-reporting requirement. Yet some now say it could transform internal finance operations. Is this XBRL’s true calling, or just more hype?