Being A Good CIO Is All About Having The Right Priorities

by drjim on January 9, 2013

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…
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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?

Why Does Everything In IT Always Take So Long?

As a CIO, you are in a rough spot. For you see, the IT department gets its requests from individual business unit chiefs. However, the IT department is responsible for providing support to all of the firm’s various departments. What this means is that individual business unit chiefs are going to view the IT department as moving very slowly when it comes to getting the things that they want done, done.

Unfortunately we all know what this means. The business unit chiefs have been trained that the one of them that yells the loudest is the one who will get taken care of first. Therefore, they have no problem showing up and starting to yell right off the bat when they want something done.

The end result of all of this is that the IT department is seen as not being responsive to the needs of the business and the CIO is seen as being unable to solve this problem which has existed since the beginning of time (or so it seems). What you are going to need to do as a CIO is to find a way to make sure that your limited IT resources find their way to the right people and the right projects, not just the business unit chiefs who do the best job of yelling the loudest.

Solutions To Making Sure IT Is Working On The Right Things

The best solution to this problem is to create a system that allows the company to prioritize the projects and to determine which ones are the most valuable to the company.

What this means for you is that you are going to have to create and implement a system to estimate the value of each IT project that a business unit chief proposes that the IT department work on. There are many different ways to measure this including: increases in sales or boost efficiency.

It can help to set up an IT project steering committee that includes non-IT members so that each project can be evaluated and the committee can be responsible for deciding which projects are worthwhile for the company to do. This is when the tough questions need to be asked.

Finally, because business unit chiefs quickly come to understand how to “game” the system and get their projects approved, you need to do more. Specifically, you need to insist that once an IT project has been completed that monitoring of the results of the project be started. What you are looking for is evidence that the project did indeed result in the outcomes that the business unit managers had stated that they would be able to achieve.

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.

As CIO one of the biggest challenges that you are going to be facing is the fact that business unit chiefs are going to view IT as being too slow. Since you have to support the entire company, this is understandable. To make sure that IT works on the right projects, you’ll need to set up a committee to evaluate each proposed project and pick the ones with the greatest potential to deliver results.

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 big should the IT project prioritizing committee be?

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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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