Steps 7-10

By Don Desiderato  |  Posted 03-03-2010 Print Email

7. Don't Align With the Business. Be In the Business
The CIO and IT organization should not strive to align with the business, serve the business or design a strategy for the business. These words sound like the IT organization is some separate entity coincidentally working with a particular business entity. The truth is, the IT organization is a crucial component of the business!    
The CIO is an executive like all other contributing executives (sales, marketing, product development, etc.). By having a mindset of being in the business, the IT organization has a better chance of effectively supporting the mission of the organization. If a CIO only discussed technical matters, he/she will quickly become pigeon-holed. However, if the CIO is an active contributor of ideas, the perception of them will broaden. Additionally, if the whole IT organization thinks of themselves this way, their job satisfaction will skyrocket.
8. Measure Success Through Business Value Metrics
The CIO must measure organizational success through a well thought-out suite of business value metrics. These are more than metrics that show 99.XX% availability of all systems. Metrics should be comprehensive and cover the entire organization, including planning and strategy, architecture, delivery, operations and quality assurance. In addition, these metrics should be known throughout the organization and even used as a basis for performance objectives.
A typical one-on-one meeting between a CIO and each leader should include a discussion of the key metrics. What's working well? Where are the danger signs? How are they managing their respective organizations with these metrics?  
The CIO should be very transparent with the business value metrics. They should be reviewed with other business executive leaders regularly, and key issues and trends should be discussed. Nothing contributes more to the confidence of the CIO more than a review of the organization through metrics. Business value metrics will certainly serve to inspire confidence.
9. Transformation, or Continuous Improvement
The CIO should consider implementing a culture that values a continuous improvement of the IT organization. This is crucial in helping the CIO and IT staff avoid complacency. IT organizations are complex, technology is constantly evolving, and good businesses are also evolving. If IT organizations are not continually raising its game, their collective performance will be mediocre.
While developing a transformation program is always an effective approach, this may imply that the project may eventually come to an end. It must be made clear to the organization that continuous improvement is the true goal. Like many of the other success ingredients, transformation or continuous improvement must be inculcated into the culture of the organization.  
10.   Have an Architecture Strategy--and Advance the Architecture
So many IT organizations have no stated architecture strategy, no stated evolutionary plan, or processes to ensure that software is being built with sound architectural guidelines. The CIO must have an architectural strategy (as well as an infrastructure upgrade strategy) in place based on the mission of the business. It is then OK for the CIO to acknowledge that it is acceptable to evolve over time to the desired state, as opposed to trying to sell an architecture project.  
The CIO must make sure the architecture blueprint is widely known across IT and the business, adopted within IT, and built into the system development life-cycle. There will be a natural tension between the chief architect and individuals who are responsible for delivering new software, generally because there are competing interests. The architect will advocate for the most pure architectural approach, while programmers will sometimes try to shortcut because of timeline pressures. This tension is normal and should be embraced.

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