When establishing project priorities, the CIO's role is "to make sure the priority process happens and to be an enabler, making sure those decisions get made," says Bob Benson, a senior consultant at Cutter Consortium.
The CIO also has to be ready to put his foot down, says Bill Hagerup, a senior consultant with Ouellette & Associates. "The CIO has to be firm enough to say, 'We can't do everything at once; we don't have adequate resources for that,'" says Hagerup. "It's easy to say 'yes' at the top when you're not doing the work at the bottom."
Much as Spatz did in co-owning projects with business leaders, Georgia Aquarium CIO Beach Clark has taken a collaborative approach to establishing milestones. "Because we're such a small company, we tend to work on projects together," he explains. For instance, Clark and the director of the aquarium's husbandry department are teaming up to establish and track project goals for a new animal records implementation.
Although L'Heureux also sets project milestones with the business, he's learned that he has to be the heavy when it comes to setting expectations. "My job is to make sure we have that discussion, to set expectations as to what a reasonable timeline is," he notes.
He's also learned the importance of building some slack into project milestones, since the project schedule often depends on a variety of extraneous factors, including regulatory requirements.