Sunday, 30 September 2012 00:00

Getting The CIO To The Table

Rate this item
(0 votes)

The lament echoes time and again, "The CIO should have a seat at the table." The claim continues that business cannot survive without the simplest of technologies. Then they provide evidence as if it would be the final nail in the coffin, "Just the other day, when email was down..." Raising my eyebrows in question, I ask, "So your email was down? For how long?" The question is like a scene from a horror film where the sudden realization is that the casket being completed is... your own. Gaining strategic respect is a long way away for those having trouble maintaining their tactical obligations. If your organization is having difficulty providing basic services, you will never have the privilege of being a partner with the business.

Get Your Affairs In Order

Do you want to read more?

Strategy, alignment, communication of goals is not easy. Our Vision To Value white paper talks about focusing your team on the key strategic corporate goals and ensuring everyone in your organization knows the direction.

The first on your agenda is creating reliable, cost-effective operations. If your customer wakes up in the morning wondering if they will have email, Internet, file security, or access to their documents when they show up for work, they will never trust you enough to be part of their strategy. It is no different for them and their customers. Whether their customers (ultimately yours) are buying dial tone, electricity, or insurance, if their business operations keeps your customers awake at night, your company will never gain the respect to be a strategic partner... or even stay in business. IT leaders, like your company's leaders, must flawlessly provide the basic infrastructure as if it were the company's life support system. After all, it is.

This attitude goes beyond applications, servers, and computers. It applies to delivering initiatives, too. If your ability to deliver a project is either reckless or overburdened with bureaucracy, you will look equally incompetent. Lightweight processes staffed with business savvy, experienced professionals who can deliver solutions are a must.

Lose Your Baggage

Let us face it, networks, router, firewalls, storage, phone systems, computers, and the like are all commodities. So are email servers, CRMs, and other easy-to-put-in-the-cloud applications. Ask yourself why you still insist on having those in-house. Focus your time and energy on building what the business needs and forget the utilities. After all, does IT need to generate its own electricity? I would hope that the only need is emergency generators and those are under the auspices of facilities. In the early twentieth century, electricity was high-tech, as email, web-servers, firewalls, router, and sub-nets were in the early twenty-first—a mere dozen years ago. Today, all are commodities of the same degree. Treat them as such and free your technology shop to support the business.

Offer to Participate

You can uniquely provide value to your business by providing both technical and non-technical solutions addressing their strategic goals. Few, if any, outside vendors know your business better than you do. Once your customer accepts that you can reliably and efficiently deliver on your promises, you have earned the right to participate by using this knowledge to help them build their business. As mentioned in the past, there are no IT projects. Information technology supports the business. Start by forming delivery knowledgeable teams that can be involved in annual business planning. Develop guidance teams, some consisting of only a project manager and an architect, who are resident with the business throughout their planning cycles.

Everyone overestimates the benefits of technology while vastly underestimating the effort of implementing it. This is never more evident than during the excitement of innovation while creating great plans for the coming year. In the absence of implementation expertise, people attempt to create technical solutions—solutions that sound great, but are limited by lack of experience. The guidance team's job is to focus on understanding "how" to build a solution and keeping the business' spotlight on "what" must be built. This is a huge step in improving project delivery success by starting projects with teams aligned on strategic objectives and eliminating preconceived solutions.

Lead IT And You Will Lead The Business

Leading the IT group, making it smaller, more agile, and focused on delivering business value is what opens the door to being at "the table." To take the final step through the C-Suite door, your organization must be able to stay ahead of the business in applying technology that will make strategic changes to the business. These are not simple changes, but paradigm shifts allowing them to pull ahead of the competition. Shedding the shackles of utility maintenance, perfecting initiative delivery, and building an architectural group to lead the company into the future (rather than implementing technical toys), will make your IT group one that the business invites to the table, ensuring they explore the proper strategic paths.

Read 7693 times

Related items

  • Process Mapping

    Process is at the core of any business. It makes work predictable, repeatable, and transferable. Without it we cannot scale our businesses. However, process can be a bane to making progress. Processes that work for a $10 million company have difficulties supporting a $30 million company. Trying to scale them to a $300 million company will not only fail but not address the issues that larger companies have that were never dreamt of in a smaller organization. Processes need to be discarded, revamped, and built—all of that without creating an overburdening bureaucracy.

    Anytime you need to go someplace, you first have to know where you are. Processes are never static and your company's current state is probably far from where you think it is. Hence, the first step is mapping out you company's current state followed by defining the future state. This is more than a logical map of the process; it must also include physical maps. Whether your process is solely to provide a service (say, website development) or physical (say, manufacturing) there are logistical issues that complicate the process flow. Without fully understanding those nuances, future state processes will not reach the desired efficiencies.

    For more information about process mapping fill out the form to the left and we will get in touch with you.

  • Success vs Culture

    The other day a Latvian student contacted me for my views the connection between culture and success criteria—an important and intriguing topic. After working in Taiwan, Singapore, Korea, Japan, Israel, United States, and Canada, I wear many scars of both blatant and subtle cultural violations. I also know that within a culture one person's success is often another person's failure. So, after dispelling concerns about clicking on some random email link, I completed her survey (please feel free to take it yourself). In the process, I struck up a friendship with the student, Kristine Briežkalne, who is studying at Riga International School of Economics and Business Administration . She has some interesting views and presented me with a Venn diagram showing four frames to a project (business, client, project management, and growth perspectives) and how they intersected. As the diagram is part of her Master's thesis, I will let you ponder the how to label the overlapping areas (an eye-opening exercise).

  • Kill The White Knight

    There is a reason we do not teach classes on fixing failing projects. Many a cynic feels that we simply do not want to teach our trade, however, our reason is far nobler—we should be teaching prevention rather trying to create white knights to save the day. It is the same philosophy as building a fence at the cliff's edge rather than an emergency room at its base. Our language is replete with idioms telling us to look past the symptom and address problems at their root cause. 'An ounce of prevention versus a pound of cure' or 'a stitch in time saves nine.' Please, feel free to supply your own in the comments. Unfortunately, most of our businesses loathe this philosophy, waiting to address an issue until it is irrefutably broken.

  • Comparing Organizational Change Management Models

    A few weeks ago, I set out to write a post on the comparison of various organizational change management (OCM) methodologies and realized that would be a disservice to my readers. It would simply drag you down the path of implementation while failing to focus you on building the foundation. The pressure was too much and I have relented to numerous requests on making that comparison. The caveat is that juxtaposing these models is not comparing different varieties of oranges or even apples and oranges; we are surely comparing the peel to the fruit they contain. Hence, comparing methodologies like Kotter's model (the peel), Prosci's ADKAR (the core), and General Electric's Change Acceleration Process (the whole fruit) need a different approach.

  • The Executive-Project Manager Gap

    It was such an innocuous question, "Working on an article; what is the biggest problem you see with project governance at orgs? Can you comment?" Can I comment? Really? That is like cheese to a mouse. Where could I start—bureaucracy, draconian process, poor executive sponsorship, disengaged leaders? Plenty of fodder, because they all lead to project failure. I fired off, "Creating an over bureaucratic morass stifling innovation & implementing process instead of cultivating leaders." Then the maelstrom started and it went directly to the gap between the executives and projects managers. Naomi Caietti, Robert Kelly and I had a great conversation. Most of the thread is below.

Leave a comment

More Info on Project Recovery

Tell me More!

Please send me more information
on fixing a failing project.

Rescue The Problem Project

Internationally acclaimed

Image of RPP

For a signed and personalized copy in the US visit the our eCommerce website.

Amazon logo
Buy it in the United States Buy it in Canada Buy it in the United Kingdom
Buy it in Ireland Buy it in Germany Buy it in France
Buy it in Italy Buy it in the PRC
Buy it in Japan
Book sellers worldwide.

Upcoming Events

Other's References

Sitemap