IT And Business: How Risky Is Too Risky?

by drjim on December 19, 2012

In the end, it takes both the business and IT to be successful…

In the end, it takes both the business and IT to be successful…
Image Credit

In every business, there are internal conflicts. One conflict that almost every company seems to have is the failure of the business side of the house to see eye-to-eye with the IT department. This has been going on for so long that it’s almost a part of the definition of information technology. As CIO, it’s going to be your responsibility to fix this problem. Got any suggestions?

Why Do CIOs Say “No” So Much?

Let’s face it, the rest of the business really doesn’t like to go to the CIO and request something. The reason for this is pretty simple: more often than not, they know that the CIO is going to tell them “no”. It really doesn’t matter if they are asking to have a new mobile device work with the company applications or if they are asking for some new feature to be added to an application, the CIO is generally going to tell them “no”.

In all fairness to the CIO, the reasons that they say “no” so often are actually fairly good reasons. We understand that even the smallest change can have major impacts on how the IT systems and processes that are used to support the company work. We also know the ugly little secret behind all IT changes.

This secret is the simple fact that doing anything in IT is very much like having a baby. It might be fun do initially, but then you are going to have to live with what you’ve created forever. In many cases this means that you will have created more complexity and this is going to result in extra costs and extra risks for the IT department over the long term.

How Can CIOs Bridge The Gap With The Rest Of The Business?

Clearly the CIO has an image problem here – we’re seen as being the kings and queens of “no”. What we need to understand is that the real world is not black and white: when we are asked to do something, we can’t shoot from the hip and just come up with yes or no reply.

Instead, we need to start to be seen as being considerate of any request that is made of us. All too often the people who are making the request will state both the problem as well as the solution. We need to be able to look beyond the solution that they are suggesting and take a close look at just exactly what the problem that they are trying to solve is.

Many times it is going to turn out that what’s being requested is either a bad idea or something that the IT department just can’t do right now. In those cases, you’ve got some explaining to do. Your responsibility is going to be to take the time to explain to the business what the true impact of their request would be and why it’s not possible to do it right now.

If you do this well enough, then what is going to happen is the nature of the change requests that you get from the rest of the business is going to change. You’ll get fewer requests that are too hard to do and you’ll start to get more requests that you’ll be able to say “yes” to. Once this starts to happen, then everyone is going to be much happier with the CIO.

What All Of This Means For You

In many companies, the IT department can appear to be an object of mystery. A lot of money gets spent on it and yet the value that it delivers may not be clear to the rest of the company. No matter what part of the IT sector you work in, as the CIO, it’s going to be your job to fix this problem.

One way to go about solving this problem is to make sure you are not so quick say “no” when other parts of the business come to you with requests. Instead, listen to them and understand what the core issue that they are trying to solve is. If you do need to tell them “no”, take the time to make sure that they understand why you have made this decision. It will help them to make better requests in the future.

The one thing that both parties can agree on is the importance of information technology. By doing what a CIO needs to do – improving internal communication, you can make sure that the rest of the company has a higher level of satisfaction with the products and services that your department is providing them with.

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

Question For You: Once you have the IT department performance numbers, what is the best way to share them with the rest of the business?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

In every business, there are internal conflicts. One conflict that almost every company seems to have is the failure of the business side of the house to see eye-to-eye with the IT department. This has been going on for so long that it’s almost a part of the definition of information technology. As CIO, it’s going to be your responsibility to fix this problem. Got any suggestions?

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