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Blitch cautions CIOs against having preconceived notions about who'll respond. "I've been surprised and continue to be surprised by who steps up to the plate. Sometimes it's who you least expect, and you never know until you make the overture."
Because part of the job of assessment is understanding the skills your staff and managers have, it's critical to get the HR department involved. If you're new to the company, HR will be a key source of information on who's been trained and certified in what technical skills. You'll also want HR's input regarding management skills among higher-level IT staff.
Ralph Loftin, a Newton, Mass.-based consultant and former CIO of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Massachusetts Inc., evaluates readiness by evaluating an IT organization's capabilities. In workshop settings, IT staff members rank their priorities by importance, identify the capabilities needed to achieve those priorities and then assess their current level of performance. "Then we can think about what we have to do to bring our level of performance up to the level required. It might be training, upgrading skills or a different organizational structure," he says.
Since no IT department is an island, CIOs recommend expanding the assessment process to include the business people you'll be working with. Finding out their concerns is especially important today, when more traditional business processesprocurement, supply-chain management, collaborationare relying heavily on software applications. This means sitting down with key executives, not just those in the executive suite, to assess their position and listen to their concerns, cautions Toyota's Cooper. "It's in the middle-management trenches that you have to solicit support," she says. Although the top brass may be gung-ho on a project and insisting everyone fall in line, that doesn't mean everyone will.
"You may not be able to change them or their thinking," notes Cooper, "but as a strategist, you're able to meter what you're able to do. You can navigate your plan more effectively if you know what level of readiness these gatekeepers have."