Why Do CIOs Make Everyone Jump Through Hoops To Get Things Done?

by drjim on January 16, 2013

The IT methodologies sure seem like unnecessary bureaucracy to everyone else…

The IT methodologies sure seem like unnecessary bureaucracy to everyone else…
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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?

Stop The IT Bureaucracy!

When another department in the company wants something done that requires the IT department to do something, how do they go about making their request? If your company is like most companies, there’s some paperwork involved. In fact, there may be a great deal of paperwork involved.

From an IT department’s point-of-view this is a necessary evil. I mean, we need to understand what the department is asking for in order to be able to properly size it and estimate the number of resources and the time that it’s going to take to give them what they are asking for.

However, if as CIO you take a step back for just a minute and look at how the department that is making the request sees things, you’ll start to understand why they view the IT department as being a huge bureaucracy. It’s not just the initial paperwork that they need to complete in order to get anything done. It’s also the countless reviews that they are going to have to attend and the approvals that they are going to have to run around and secure. It all seems like way too much effort.

In defense of the IT department, there is a reason for the way that we do things. We’ve developed IT methodologies because this is the way that we ensure that everyone in the IT department does the right thing at the right time. IT systems are big, complex beasts. We need ways to make sure that nothing gets forgotten when we go to make changes to them and our paperwork / reviews / approvals are how we make this happen.

The problem starts when the rest of the company does not understand this. When they don’t understand why we’re making them fill out forms and do other steps then all of a sudden they think that we’ve become a bloated bureaucracy.

Solutions That Solve The IT Methodology Problem

As the CIO, it is going to fall on your shoulders to solve this perception problem. That means that you’ve got to find a way to balance the rest of the company’s desire for simplicity in dealing with the IT department with the IT department’s desire for complete information on any request changes.

There are a number of different ways to go about doing this. One that has worked for other CIOs is to throw out the cumbersome IT request evaluation process that your company has developed over time. One of its biggest problems with it is that it doesn’t look like anything else the company does and nobody understands it.

Instead, replace it with the same process (or at least a similar process) that the rest of the company uses to evaluate new projects. By making the IT evaluation process look like something that the rest of the company is already familiar with, you will have increased the transparency of the process.

I’m not going to try to fool you here – making the IT evaluation process more transparent is going to increase the workload on your IT department. However, the extra effort is going to be well worth it. The value of the IT department to the rest of the company will increase and you will have made the IT department become part of the company and not its own little island.

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 of the biggest complaints that the rest of the company has about the IT department is that we are too hard to do business with. As the CIO you are going to have to look at the methodology that your department uses when collecting information on new proposals and determine if it has turned into a bureaucracy. One suggestion is to throw out how you do it today and replace it with a new process that looks like how the rest of the company evaluates the projects that it is considering. This will boost transparency.

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: How long do you think that it should take the IT department to evaluate a proposal submitted by another department?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

I love tablets, I’m sure that you love tablets. What’s not to love about them – they are thin, they go everywhere, and they run the coolest apps. Very soon tablets will become the poster children for the definition of information technology. You can well imagine the pressure that CIOs everywhere are under by the early adopters in their company (CEOs included) to quickly have the IT department support tablets and make tablets a part of how the company does business. As sexy as they are, CIOs need to be careful when agreeing to start to support tablets. It turns out that there are 5 things that CIOs need to know about tablets

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