CIOs can use business partnerships to achieve more

CIOs can use business partnerships to achieve more
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As the person with the CIO job you are faced with a double challenge: despite the importance of information technology you have a limited budget and you have limited resources. This means that in order to get everything done that the rest of the company is expecting you to do, you are going to have to get creative. One way to do this is to get some outside help in the form of partnering with other businesses. The secret lies in knowing how to do this.

5 Tips For Establishing Business Partnerships

One of your jobs as CIO is to always be on the lookout for partners who can help your IT department achieve more. The difference between a partner and a vendor is that a partner won’t be trying to sell you anything. Rather, they will be trying to grow their business by working with you. In order to determine if a given company would be a good partner, here are 5 tips for evaluating their potential:

  1. Inside Your Industry Is Where The Best Potential Partners Are: Studies have shown that when a CIO chooses to partner with a company that is within his or her industry, this produces the best results. The thinking is that your IT department will be able to provide something that they can’t and vice versa. Their hope is that by partnering with your IT department, they will develop new skills or insights that they can then use to bring in new customers. A good way to find potential partners is to check out their web sites and see if they have a “partners” page. If they are already partnering with other companies in your industry, then they may be a good candidate for you to partner with.
  2. Make The Effort – Reach Out: No matter how long you’ve been a CIO, this is the scary part. The company that you are thinking about partnering with probably doesn’t know about you. You are going to have to take the initiative. Find a way to get in contact with them. Reaching out through a common friend is the best way, but you can always use their web site or even LinkedIn to make contact.
  3. Create A (Simple) Plan: If the other company expresses interest in partnering with you, then you are going to need to show up with a plan for how you can work together. Your plan needs to clearly show how the partnership is going to benefit both of you. Keep it nice and simple – there is no need to complicate things at this early stage of the game. A good way to get things started is for both firms to cross-promote each other’s offerings. Give that a try and see where things go from there.
  4. Test, Test, Test: You can never know if a partnership is going to work out from the start. This means that you are always going to have to be testing the partnership in order to make sure that both of you are getting out of it what you need. Ultimately, it’s going to come down to what your IT department’s customers think – with the partnership in place have you become more valuable to them?
  5. Dance With Other Partners: No one partner is going to be able to provide your IT department with all of the extra resources that you are going to need. Even while you partner with your new partner, you are going to want to still be exploring partnering with other firms. It is entirely possible that you may bring on board additional partners that your existing partners will also be able to work with.

What All Of This Means For You

The person in the CIO position is always dealing with limitations on what they can do: limited budgets, limited staff, and, of course, limited time. One creative way that they can overcome these limitations is to partner with other businesses in order to be able to accomplish more of what the rest of the business is expecting them to do.

In order to set up an effective business partnership, a CIO has to be able to find other businesses within his or her own industry – similarities can help to make a partnership work out. The next step is to overcome any doubts that you might have and reach out. Every partnership is a test. Give it a try and see if it works. If it doesn’t, then try different partners.

The good news for CIOs is that there is a virtually unlimited number of firms that may be suitable partners for them. The trick will be determining which ones hold the highest probability of being good partners. Take the time to follow these 5 tips and you just might find that with your new partners you are a CIO who can do more with what you have.

- Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World IT Department Leadership Skills™

Question For You: How many business partnerships should a CIO have?

Click here to get automatic updates when The Accidental Successful CIO Blog is updated.

P.S.: Free subscriptions to The Accidental Successful CIO Newsletter are now available. Learn what you need to know to do the job. Subscribe now: Click Here!

What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

In the 21st Century, all business seems to be done globally. However, in order for the person with the CIO job to be effective, you are going to have to be able to communicate in the old fashion way – face to face. What this means is that you will need to master the art of office communications as yet another way to capture the importance of information technology. It’s not impossible, but you do need to know what you are doing.

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If only picking the right cloud vendor was this easy…

If only picking the right cloud vendor was this easy…
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Face it, we are all going to move our company’s IT applications into the cloud eventually. The importance of information technology demands that we do this. Just exactly where that cloud is going to be located and who will be running it for us is another question. What questions does a CIO need to ask when you are trying to select the right cloud vendor for your company?

5 Questions To Ask A Cloud Vendor

You wouldn’t buy a car without doing your homework and asking the car dealer a bunch of questions, right? The same thinking should go into how you go about selecting a cloud provider for your company’s valuable IT applications. The trick is to know what questions you need to be asking. Here are 6 of the most critical questions that you are going to need to get answers to:

  1. Experience: You really don’t want your company’s applications to be the first ones that go into this vendor’s cloud. You would prefer that they have done this many time before. Any company can look good in their marketing brochures, but the real proof will be when they can show you a list of their current customers. Look for proof of awards and anecdotes from known industry sources. Ask around: do you know anyone else who has gone with this vendor and what has their experience been like?
  2. Try Before You Buy: Signing up with any cloud provider is a big risk for anyone who has the CIO job. If you’ve made a mistake, you’ll know right off the bat. Make sure that you always have an “out”. Make sure that you can pilot your solution with them before you get locked into a long-term contract.
  3. Price Protection: If there is one thing that we all hate, it’s buying something and then discovering that we could have gotten it cheaper if we had only waited a bit. When you are negotiating the terms of your contact with your cloud provider partner, make sure that you build price protection into your contract. If they drop their prices while your contract in in effect, you should be able to take advantage of their best prices and not be locked in to the prices that were in effect when you signed the contract.
  4. It’s All About The SLA: Serviced Level Agreements (SLAs) are how you’ll measure the level of service that your cloud provider is delivering to you. You’ll want to create a custom SLA that meets your company’s specific needs; however, at a bare minimum it’s going to have to deal with issues such as availability, transaction time, storage, and performance. Make sure that you spell out what the cloud provider is going to have to do if they can’t keep up their end of the SLA.
  5. Transparency: Once you move your applications into the cloud, you will undoubtedly run into some problems. The big question is going to be where are those problems coming from: your applications or the cloud that they are running in? If you can’t peer “into” the cloud, you’ll have a tough time answering this question. You need to insist on having some level of transparency into the cloud so that you can check on things like monitoring and operational management, performance management, and change management,
  6. Bad Things Happen, Are They Ready?: In this world that we live in, bad things do happen: freak storms, power outages, etc. Your cloud provider will experience these types of things – will they be ready for them? You should insist on seeing their disaster recovery plan. Review it with them and see if you get a sense that they are really ready or is it just a sheet of paper that they hope to never have to use?

What Does All Of This Mean For You?

The arrival of the cloud is poised to change how the person in the CIO job runs their IT department. Eventually, some or all of the company’s applications will be moved to the cloud. In order to ensure that they continue to operate reliably, CIOs need to know what questions they need to ask cloud vendors before making a selection.

Asking the right questions will ensure that you get the right cloud provider for your company. Make sure that they’ve done this before, that they offer a trial period, and that there is price protection built into the contract that they offer. SLAs are critical as well as your ability to peer into their operations. Finally, planning for the worst is a necessity so make sure that there is a disaster recovery plan in place.

Some of these questions may seem rather basic, but they are all critical. When it comes to something new and shiny like “the cloud” it can be all too easy to forget to ask the really important questions. Take the time to ask the right questions and you’ll be sure to end up with the right cloud partner for you.

- Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World IT Department Leadership Skills™

Question For You: Do you think how long a cloud vendor has been in business should be a factor in who you choose?

Click here to get automatic updates when The Accidental Successful CIO Blog is updated.

P.S.: Free subscriptions to The Accidental Successful CIO Newsletter are now available. Learn what you need to know to do the job. Subscribe now: Click Here!

What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

As the person with the CIO job you are faced with a double challenge: despite the importance of information technology you have a limited budget and you have limited resources. This means that in order to get everything done that the rest of the company is expecting you to do, you are going to have to get creative. One way to do this is to get some outside help in the form of partnering with other businesses. The secret lies in knowing how to do this.

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