Speaking in Business-ese
Beyond effectively delivering project updates to other executives in business terms they understand, CIOs need to tutor rising IT staffers to be able to do the same.
"I really like the idea that the CIO mentors the project management group or PMO in how to deal, in a businesslike fashion, with clients and how to communicate effectively and see things from other people's points of view," Hagerup says.
Of course, the style that each CIO uses to communicate with C-level peers on a project's status will vary depending on the nature of the relationships. The Georgia Aquarium recently completed a corporate dashboard that is used by its CFO and COO to examine such statistics as year-to-date revenue and visitor figures compared with prior years. Since the COO had been Clark's boss before being promoted, Clark speaks to him frequently. "We're able to get away with an informal method of communications," he says.
In many instances, of course, the CIO will need to drive the discussion. During L'Heureux's tenure at Rockford Health, the company has had five different CFOs. During those times when he felt that project management wasn't getting the attention it deserved from top management, L'Heureux, at its senior-level systems operations council meetings, would produce a list of the top projects the company was working on to ensure that the business leaders were aware of the various projects' status and milestones.
Says L'Heureux: "Sometimes I feel like Gen. Patton in my organization."