How The Orange County CTO Solved His IT Problem

Orange County's IT department had a problem because nobody knew what they did
Orange County’s IT department had a problem because nobody knew what they did
Image Credit: Orange County Archives

Joel Manfredo was the CTO of Orange County, California a while ago. When he first came into office, he discovered what most CIOs discover when they start their job: he had a lot of problems on his hands that had nothing to do with the importance of information technology. The Orange County IT department provides IT services for over 18,000 employees who work in over 30 different government services. As Joel took over as CTO he realized that he had a bit of a mess on his hands, what was a CTO to do?

Scoping Out The Problem

When Joel Manfredo got the CIO job for Orange County the first thing that he did was to take stock of his new responsibilities. What he discovered was that his team was divided into two parts: full time employees and contractors. As you might imagine, within the IT department there was a great deal of conflict and they were operating inefficiently.

One of the big problems with the IT department was that it was highly reactive. This lead to a lot of the conflicts that it was struggling with. Joel started to fix things by bringing in a facilitator who lead meetings that were designed to show the various parts of IT how to do a better job of working with each other.

The purpose of these meetings was to teach the IT team members accountability. What they all need to realize was that the customer always had to come first. They had to be taught that finding ways to deliver IT services efficiently was everybody’s job.

Using A Catalog To Boost Communication

Once he had the staffing situation under control, Joel moved on to looking for ways to improve his relationship with his end users. One of the biggest changes he implemented was to start to charge the various departments for the IT services that they were receiving. This required creating a new mind-set where users started to understand the real value of an IT service.

In order to clearly communicate the IT services that were available to the various government services, Joel had a catalog of IT services created. The purpose of creating this catalog was to provide the departments with the ability to shop for the IT services that they needed.

The catalog lays out each of the services that the IT department offers. Additionally, the price of each service is detailed as well as how the IT department charges for the service. Finally, the catalog provides tips for using each of the services that it describes.

What All Of This Means For You

Every IT department has its share of things that need to be fixed. When Joel Manfredo took over as the Orange County CTO he discovered that he had more than his fair share of issues on his hands.

Joel had to find a way to get his full-time employees to work more closely with his contractors. What he did was to create a catalog of the IT services that his department offered. This catalog was distributed to the 30 various departments that were supported by the IT department. This allowed everyone to understand what the IT department did and what new services they could request.

What Joel realized is what everyone in the CIO position needs to understand. Clear communication is the key to running a successful IT department. Once everyone knew what the IT department could do, they started to ask for those services and this required both sides of the IT department to start to work together much better.

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

Question For You: If you created a catalog of your IT department’s IT services, how detailed should you make it?

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