Monthly Archives: May 2012

Is your company being ripped off?

You find some of the strangest things exist in some companies. It never fails to amaze me when I conduct a quick IT assessment how much I usually find in “low hanging fruit” cost savings.

Let me give you two extreme examples that I discovered with the last company I joined as their new CIO.

The time frame is October, 1999, , , leading up to Y2K. Remember how uncertain it was?

Once I got there I conducted a quick IT assessment, something I’ve done dozens of times for company acquisitions and a few times as a new CIO or consultant.

In the discovery I found two things that almost shocked me, , , but over the years I’ve learned not to be too surprised by what you see.

First issue:
I discover we are paying $950.00 per month to a local company to host our company web site. This web site is approximately 15 pages and information only, no special functionality, , , and we maintain the web pages ourselves.

WOW – $950.00 a month to host our web site, , , what a great deal !!!

WRONG, , , we are getting ripped off. A service like this shouldn’t cost more than say $25.00 a month for what we are needing, , , even in 1999.

Second issue
This same local Internet hosting company also provides PCs for our Headquarters office which has about 120 people.

A problem I detect is that “new PCs are breaking” plus the PCs we are buying cost us about 20% more than what I can buy the same configuration for from Dell or Compaq at the time.

This company also provides a maintenance service for all of our Corporate Headquarters desktops, , , something we need because we have so much breakage. They only charge us $50.00 per month per device for an all-inclusive maintenance package that includes parts and labor.

Let’s see here, , , how much is this costing?

  • 20% more to purchase the PC
  • $50/month or $600/year to maintain the PC

We are spending over $5,000 a month with this vendor just on PC maintenance plus paying more for  “new PCs” than what we could buy them from Dell.

What’s going on here?

Our company is being ripped off.

This vendor is selling us PCs made up of used parts (it’s why they break within a year) and then selling us a maintenance package disguised as a premium support service.

Well, I quickly fired this vendor, , , hosted our Internet web site myself, developed a standard PC image with Dell and created a purchase contract with them that indeed cost us less money to buy new PCs, , , and our warranty was great, , , and the new Dell PCs didn’t break, , , and we eliminated the monthly PC maintenance cost.

I saved the company roughly $100,000 a year simply by identifying a couple of “abnormal” expenses.

Imagine that!

We were getting ripped off to the tune of somewhere between $8,000 to $10,000 a month by this vendor.

When I fired the vendor, I was a bit surprised as to why one of our Accountants got so upset. Turns out he was getting some of the money from this vendor. That’s usually the case when such a rip-off is occurring.

“It takes two to tango”, they say. My take is that I like saving the money and receiving value for what we are spending with our vendors.

Do you have any “war stories” to share? If so, Leave a Reply!

Understand supply and demand to manage client expectations

One of the keys to success as an IT manager is being able to manage your client’s expectations. There are many other keys to success, but this one is critical.

To manage your client’s expectations, you must know some things about the concept of “supply and demand” and how it applies within an IT support organization.

Demand is the technology support needed by your clients to address their business needs and issues.

Supply is your IT organization’s capability and capacity to deliver IT support.

In most situations, there will be more demand than supply, , , your clients need or want more from IT than the IT organization can deliver. This is normal and exists for most IT organizations. That’s OK, but to succeed, you are going to have to balance the two somehow.

Let’s take a team of five programmers and use them as an example to discuss these issues.

Here, you see we have one great team of five programmers. Let’s assume they all work on the same software application to make our example easier.

The Demand Side
Our demand for programming work is defined by a couple of things:

  1. Day to day support required of the programmers
  2. Backlog of programming enhancement requests

Your Help Desk should give you some sense for the “disruptive nature” of day to day support issues that hinder a programmer’s coding productivity. If you don’t have anything, do a 2-week time study and have each of your programmer’s chart where they spend their time for every hour of the day.

You might be surprised, , , and this simple exercise will tell you a lot about what’s being pulled out of your team’s capacity to handle daily support issues.

Maybe you think your team is totally isolated and immune from day to day support. Don’t be fooled, , , do the time exercise and discover the reality of your situation.

The second part of Demand is detailed in your Programming Backlog. You should have a database of some type (maybe it’s just an EXCEL spreadsheet) that lists every programming request and an estimate of how many hours it will take to program the project.

If you aren’t managing your backlog like this, then you don’t know what your demand for programming is, , , and if you don’t know, you can’t manage client expectations.

The Supply Side
On average, a programmer can produce about 100 – 120 hours of productive code per month. There are 160 hours in a normal month of work (4 weeks at 40 hours each), and when you pull out time for meetings, training, sick, vacation and holidays, , , what is left is the actual productive coding time you get from a programmer.

Some months will be less than this average of 100 – 120 hours of productive coding time, some months will be better, , , but over 12 months time you should see this average work out.

If you are delivering less than 100-120 hours per programmer per month on average for 6 or more months, you have a productivity issue that needs attention.

OK, if we have 5 programmers that means our supply of productive coding (or capacity) is somewhere between 500 – 600 hours per month as a team.

Let’s assume the demand for coding new reports, enhancements, and new features for this application is considerably more than our capacity. How do we increase our output, , , our supply?

There are several ways to increase the output of a programming team:

  1. Improve the existing team’s productivity
  2. Have the team work more hours
  3. Pay programmers incentive pay to do certain projects on their own time (on weekends and holidays or in the evenings after work)
  4. Hire new programmers
  5. Contract programmers from the outside

I’ve used all of these and every option will work to improve your programming team’s output. One caution though is that “requiring the team to work more hours” will work to an extent, but long term use of this approach can create morale problems and put your programmers at risk of leaving your company.

You essentially have three options to address a programming backlog that exceeds your capacity, , , reduce the amount of backlog, , , take longer to do the work, , , or increase capacity to attack the backlog.

The bottom line though is that you aren’t going to get twice the capacity with the five programmers you have on board now. If need is truly higher than your capacity to deliver, you have to manage your client’s expectations. There are several ways:

  1. Reduce the demand
  2. Increase your capacity to deliver
  3. Take longer

Usually the answer lies within all three of these. However, Item #3 (Take longer) really isn’t doing anything different. You attack the problem when you do something about reducing the demand and/or increasing capacity.

The next thing you need to have a good grasp on is, How much of your capacity goes to day to day support?”

It might be 80% of your total programming capacity to troubleshoot issues, fix things, or provide day to day support for the users. If it is 80%, that doesn’t leave much to develop real enhancements.

You need to have a realistic estimate of what day to day support requires from your team, , , without it, you are doomed.

To manage client expectations, you have to know what your capacity to deliver is and of that capacity, , , how much of it is required for day to day support.

Without this understanding, it is virtually impossible to manage your client’s expectations.

Be conservative
The next thing is that when you are making commitments to your clients, you must be conservative. Remember the “Golden IT Rule”, , ,

Always position your team to over deliver. No one gets upset if you exceed their expectations.

One method I use is that I always start managing a new programming staff with an expectation that we can deliver 100 hours of code per programmer per month, , , the bottom of the 100-120 hours a month range you typically see.

Now, when you do this, you need to know that I consider these programmers to be truly isolated from day to day support issues, , , their full time is focused on software development.

I know that if we are operating properly, each of these programmers will actually deliver on average more than 100 hours per month. When I give my client a forecast that we can deliver up to 500 hours a month for the team (5 programmers * 100 hours), I’m positioning the team to over deliver.

Four key things will help you manage your client’s expectations:

  1. Understand the demand for your resources
  2. Know your capability and capacity to deliver
  3. Realize how much is used for day to day support
  4. Be conservative in your commitments

Do these things with your programming staff and other parts of your IT support organization and you will be able to manage your client’s expectations much better.

Key reasons to develop your IT staff

There are many reasons why you should invest in your IT staff and develop their capabilities. I can’t think of a single reason why you should not.

Are you aware that many IT managers don’t want to invest in training and developing their employees?

Hard to believe but it is true, , , many managers are afraid that once an employee gets trained he or she might leave the company for a better job somewhere else.

I’m sure this probably happens on occasion, but here is what I would say about this perception:

“Investing in your employees and developing their skills tends to cause them to stay with you , , , not leave you.”

Key reasons to invest in your IT staff:

A. Creates a stronger team – Stronger, more capable employees can do more, , , they are more productive, and your team will become much more successful.

B. Easier to manage – Stronger teams are easier to manage. More capable employees require less direction and can simply achieve more.

C. Motivation – IT employees are motivated by training and education. They are hungry to learn more, keep current in changing technologies, and appreciate it when their company invests in developing their capabilities.

D. Reduce turnover – What I’ve seen is that employees tend to stay with you when you invest in them.

E. Build depth – Creating a Training Plan for every employee you have gives you opportunity to build depth in mission critical skills, , , this gives your team flexibility and an ability to deal with issues much more effectively.

F. Identify your replacement – Developing a candidate to replace you positions you for more responsibility. New opportunities are not given to managers who are not prepared to take them, and being positioned with a replacement is a key part of being prepared.

G. More responsibility
– Coupled with Item-F above, organizations that achieve more tend to be asked to take on more responsibility, , , a good thing for all.

Every employee on your team should have an annual training and education focus!

The motivational value alone is too great to miss out on. It also gives you an exceptional ability to fill in gaps in your team’s skill sets and things you need to support your clients effectively.

Each employee on my team receives an annual Performance Plan, and in each plan I include a section titled, Training and Education. This way, it forces me to invest in each employee and focus their development in areas that will help the team and our company.

To determine what you put in each employee’s Performance Plan, begin with a global look at your IT support situation. Here is a quick approach:

1. Take some time to identify what you need in terms of IT support skills and capabilities (don’t forget soft skills).

2. Quantify what you have.

3. Develop a list of needs to focus on based upon the skill gaps you identify in “what you need” versus “what you have”.

4. Identify training and education that will address your gaps.

5. Target individuals to receive the training focus you decide to invest in.

6. Put each employee’s list of training to be targeted in their Performance Plan.

Be sure you review every employee to ensure each has specific training and education targeted for him or her.

Every employee needs an annual training and education plan!

Be proactive in developing your IT employees and you will see good things come from it, , , a stronger, more motivated team, , , and an organization capable of achieving more success.

These are some mighty good reasons to invest in your IT employees.

51st IT Manager Institute held in Atlanta, Georgia

Last week, I held the 51st IT Manager Institute in Norcross, GA, , , just north of Atlanta and next to Roswell, GA where I lived for 20 years.

Samuel and Georgette – IT Manager Institute #51

The 51st class was small. We had 4 students drop out the week before the class due to vacation, project commitments, , , or in the case of one student from Venezuela who had difficulties in coordinating the trip. Fortunately, all plan to attend the fall class I have scheduled for Columbia, TN the week of September 24-28, 2012. I can hardly wait to meet them.

Normally, I would probably cancel such a small class when I have to travel, but one of the students, Samuel Alabi, came all the way from Lagos, Nigeria. His company is headquartered in Houston so he is spending a couple of more weeks in the US.

The other student, Georgette Correa, works right around the corner from where we held the class so I decided to go ahead and make it happen, , , and I’m so glad I did.

This was just a FUN CLASS, , , both Georgette and Samuel are extremely likable and fun to be around, , , we laughed quite a lot in this class. Small classes are not quite as profitable for us, but the positive thing is I’m able to get to know the students much better than in a big class, , , and, I’m “helping IT managers of the world achieve more success” , , , one manager at a time.

It’s worth the effort.

Driving around my old neighborhood brought back some great memories, , , plus I was able to have dinner with my brother, Mark.

On another night, I met Tom Mochal at the Cheesecake Factory in Perimeter Mall where we met one another for the first time in 2002. Tom and I have become close and share ideas with each other in meetings and our wives enjoy getting together.

Joining us was Craig Telfer, a long time friend who I worked with in two companies. It is always good to see Craig and I consider him a “brother”.

Dexter Oliver and his best friend for many years, Irvin, also joined us for dinner, , , I met Dex in February 2007 when he attended the IT Manager Institute (#23) in Nashville, TN. Dex hosted this Atlanta class and has sent 10 or more of his managers through the program over the years we have known one another. He is a great guy.

Dex makes a great comment about the program, “There is a huge difference in a manager who has attended the IT Manager Institute. Working with a manager who has gone through the program is ‘night and day’ compared to someone who has not.”

I was remiss not to get a photo of the dinner with Tom, Craig, Dex and Irvin.

But, , , here are a couple more photos of the 51st IT Manager Institute class.

Dinner at Ippolito’s

Samuel and Georgette after a great meal at Ippolito’s

Here are a few of their comments:
“This course is the best course pertaining to IT that I’ve ever taken. I highly recommend it for anyone in IT – not just managers.”

“Mike Sisco is ranked, in my book, one of the greatest teachers. He has made a huge impact in my thought process in reference to my IT career.”

“The content is very much a “must know” for IT managers who are hungry to succeed.”

“This is a mini MBA for IT managers.”

Risk #6: Security

The sixth risk listed in the Six Key Risks a CIO Must Avoid post is

Security in a company includes many things, , , from physical security, systems security, Data Center security to network access security. Most of these security aspects have technology involved in some way.

Security plays a huge role in our lives today, , , especially for technology managers.

As systems become more advanced and are depended upon more by everyone in your company to do their job, your ability to provide a secure technology environment is a prerequisite to IT success.

A CIO now needs to be aware of all types of security issues, , , even potentially physical security as certain physical security devices and processes are dependent upon technology.

In a company of any size, it behooves the CIO and senior management team to have a security officer who can focus time and attention to security.

A security breach can have major impact on the productivity and stability of a company. Security is a risk all CIO’s need to focus on to protect the company and its employees.

To provide reliable security for your company, you should:

  • Have a security focus and assign accountability for each security component
    • Systems
    • Database
    • Network
    • Building and facilities
    • Privacy
    • Password
  • Develop security policies and procedures and communicate them to your work force
  • Create monitoring systems to evaluate compliance
  • Conduct random security breach tests to evaluate your security procedures

It’s important to constantly evaluate your company’s security measures as things, especially technology, changes constantly. Becoming complacent into thinking everything is “OK” can cause you to experience a big and possibly painful surprise one day. Managing security needs a proactive focus that always asks two questions:

  • “Is this security component still secure?”
  • “What is the impact if this security component fails?”

Place a focus on security and make someone accountable can help you sleep better at night.

Risk #5: Downtime

The fifth risk listed in the Six Key Risks a CIO Must Avoid post is

This risk is actually two things, , , downtime plus what I like to call “lack of systems availability” when Users can’t access technology needed to do their job.

Downtime is straightforward, , , a server has crashed, a printer has broken, or a remote office router has failed. Something isn’t working so we have downtime.

System unavailability can mean the systems and network are all working properly but something prevents a User from accessing a system. An example might be when the IT organization freezes a server to perform an upgrade or maintenance.

In both situations, the User sees it as downtime. “I can’t work so something must be broken.”

A CIO must create a stable and reliable technology environment. Nothing will get you fired quicker than managing an IT organization that experiences lots of downtime. It is simply unacceptable.

The reason downtime is unacceptable is because it costs the company so much in many ways:

  • Loss of productivity
  • Morale issues
  • Client satisfaction problems
  • Troubleshooting and resolution expense
  • Loss of revenue

Effective CIO’s understand, “UPTIME IS KING !”

It’s important for a CIO to create an environment that supports a stable systems and network environment. To do this, the CIO should put in place a few key things:

  • Reliable hardware and network components – It goes without saying that an environment made up of old, dilapidated systems and network components is going to have failure. Understand where your “achilles heels” are and upgrade as needed to improve the stability of your technology environment.
  • Infrastructure support staff – Your infrastructure support can be staffed in-house or outsourced, but the staff must be capable and qualified to support the technologies used by the company. This team must also be positioned to respond quickly to problem issues.
  • Reliable support vendors – You need vendors you can count on, , , the type that provides reliable and responsive support.
  • Change management processes – Implementing processes to control changes made to networks and systems will help ensure thoroughness and quality of upgrade projects.
  • Monitoring systems – One of the best tools an infrastructure manager can have is an early warning of an impending failure. Good monitoring systems help you anticipate need.
  • Escalation procedures – When a system or network component goes down, you need to fix the problem as quickly as possible, , , this will be handled faster and more effectively when you have sound escalation procedures to follow.

Two additional things the CIO should understand is:

  1. How much downtime the company is experiencing
  2. The cost of downtime

When I joined a small company I knew we were having downtime issues, but with no Help Desk I couldn’t get a good handle on what kind of issues we were having. To gain a better understanding of our downtime situation, I created a simple spreadsheet and started tracking every downtime event we encountered. Within a couple of months I had a very good sense of what was going on which helped me in developing our strategy to stabilize our technology environment.

The other thing I’m a big advocate of is to understand the cost of downtime.

You can do this very easily for any component in your technology environment, from a larger server, a remote office router, , , even a desktop PC. Take a look at an ITLever post I wrote about this and download the Cost of Downtime tool. There is a link to a 20 Minute IT Manager training session that explains it all.

Reducing downtime should be a key focus of any CIO.

Risk #4: Missing your budget

The fourth risk listed in the Six Key Risks a CIO Must Avoid post is

A CIO who can’t operate within the budget he submits is in real danger.

While you may not have budgeting responsibility as a young IT manager, budgeting must become a core competency for a CIO. The executive management team expects (and rightfully so) the IT department to develop a budget and operate within it so the company can achieve its financial numbers.

If the CIO spends more than he budgeted, , , well, the CEO and CFO have to make up that deficiency somewhere else for the company to achieve its financial plan. If they don’t, their jobs can literally be at risk.

What this says is that CIO’s have to be able to budget and budget in a way that is going to be predictable in achieving their plan.

I’ve developed hundreds of IT support budgets and can’t remember when I failed to achieve the plan. Here are a couple of tips that can help you reduce this risk:

  • Understand that surprises happen and when they do they almost always require more cost.
  • Don’t forget the special projects or events that will occur in the new year, , , they will have costs.
  • Include buffer in larger expense accounts, such as:
    • Salary and employee related expenses
    • Travel
    • Maintenance
    • Telecommunications
    • Training and education
  • Be certain to understand other department manager plans for the new year that have IT support implications.
  • Having an IT strategy so you know what you will be working on is critical.
  • Review past year Profit and Loss reports to identify spending trends, , , be sure you can justify material spending trend changes in the new budget.
  • Review past year Profit and Loss reports for spending spikes, , , these are often annual or semi-annual vendor expenses.
  • Confirm you have all employee related expenses like travel and training associated with any new hires planned.

And finally, do a quick risk assessment on each expense category after budgeting to insure you have taken everything into consideration that might affect spending in this area. Consider things like special projects, events, other department manager plans, etc.

If you need a straightforward process and simple tools to help you budget, take a look at, IT Budgeting: operational and capital budgets made easy

Risk #3: Losing people

The third risk listed in the Six Key Risks a CIO Must Avoid post is

Losing key people can create a lot of risk for an organization, especially when these people are in mission critical support roles or where you have minimal depth for key skills.

Keeping your good people is not all about money. Leaving a company for more money always ranks around 7th to 9th in the studies I’ve seen. There is usually something else that causes an employee to start looking for another employer.

However, when an employee gives you a resignation letter, they usually tell you they are leaving for more money. Don’t believe it, , , that’s typically not the real reason.

In a competitive market where companies are competing for quality employees, the challenge is to find ways that will help you keep your good employees.

Which employees are the most vulnerable for you to lose?

Your best people are the ones who will probably leave you if you aren’t doing things to keep them with you. That’s right, , , your best people.

The average ones are fairly content and the poor performers will stay with you forever if you allow them to. The best people will be the ones to walk into your office and hand you a resignation letter.

A few keys to help you retain your good employees include:

  • Challenge them
  • Being part of a winning team
  • Investing in them with training and education
  • Strong communication
  • Recognition and appreciation
  • Empowering them with real responsibility
  • Motivating events that keep it interesting
  • Having some fun

Training and education are powerful motivators
One of the top motivators in every survey I’ve seen that identifies reasons IT employees stay with their company is training and education. It is always in the top one or two positions.

What this says is that you need a training program that focuses the development of each employee on your staff, , , believe me, it will pay dividends. Not only will the staff become more capable, you will find people understand and appreciate the fact that their manager is investing in them.

Don’t underestimate how important showing appreciation for a job well done is. IT people are not the most appreciated work group around, , , much of what we work on is either a problem, fixing something, or changing something. We don’t get lots of accolades from our client. It’s up to the IT manager to ensure his team receives appreciation and a “pat on the back” for their hard work and accomplishments.

What I’ve seen is that keeping your good employees is a lot about paying attention to them and doing things that show you appreciate them. It does not take a lot of money to do this, , , it simply requires you to pay attention and do things every now and then that appreciates your employees’ hard work.

Need help motivating your employees? Take a look at IT Staff Motivation and Development: build a world class team

Risk #2: Project failure

The second risk listed in the Six Key Risks a CIO Must Avoid post is

Project failure occupies a very high place in my list of risks, , , right alongside the IT – Business disconnect. The reason is that an IT organization builds credibility by delivering projects successfully.

If you can’t “do what you say you will do”, , , in other words, deliver projects successfully, , , then you won’t be credible.

This means you have to complete projects on time, within budget, and meet the clients expectations of what you deliver (also known as delivering the expected value or benefits), , , three key ingredients for success.

Studies and surveys point out every year that IT projects have a high level of failure in most companies. It’s time to fix this problem and start building a track record that shows your clients you, “do what you say you will do”.

There are many reasons a project can fail, but I believe most project failures are caused by a few things we do, , , or fail to do, , , such as:

  • Fail to define clear goals and objectives
  • Fail to quantify the specific deliverables
  • Fail to gain agreement from the Project Sponsor on the defined objectives and deliverables

I call these three bullet points the “front end” work. Most IT employees (both managers and technical staff) have two personality traits that works against them in this area.

The first is that over 70% of us are shy and introverted. What this means is that we don’t really like communicating outside our inner circle, , , and clients are definitely outside that circle as you can see in the graphic below.

We may be “the life of the party” with our inner circle groups, but most IT employees tend to be much more reserved and shy in social situations with people outside that circle, , , we don’t communicate as well with groups outside our inner circle.

The second part that causes us to fail to clearly define the project is that 85% of us have a high sense of urgency so we want to start the work as quickly as possible, complete it, and then move on to the next project.

These two personality combinations can be “hazardous to your health” because what happens is that all too often we start working on projects before we have established specifics of what the project should achieve and what we have to deliver to be successful. Here is a key point to keep in mind, , ,

If you don’t identify the goal and quantify the specific deliverable
then there is no way you can complete a project successfully.

There are other contributors to project failure. Conquer the bullet points below and the odds of a successful project go way up:

  • Failing to put buffer into your scheduled completion of project tasks
  • Failing to put buffer into your project budget

 Projects tend to take longer and cost more
than you think they will

  • Failing to identify bottlenecks and eliminating them early
  • Failing to start working on tasks early enough to complete them on time

IT employees tend to procrastinate

  • Failing to prevent “scope creep”

Scope creep is where a project task was estimated to take 8 hours, but discussions with the client and others identify additional things that can be done to make the project “even better”. Before we know it, our 8-hour task is now 20 hours.

The biggest culprit in creating scope creep is our own IT people, , , not the client like you might want to think. Our people are smart, creative, and conscientious, , , they want to do a good job. So, they work with the client on an issue to complete their task and come up with great ideas to make things even better, , ,  before you know it the client wants more than what we originally committed to.

Coach your employees to prevent scope creep

With today’s project management methodologies, tools, and training there is every reason any IT organization should be able to improve upon its project success track record. When you do, your credibility improves and that leads to success as a CIO.

Need help? Take a look at IT Project Management: a practical approach

Risk #1: IT – Business disconnect

The first risk listed in the Six Key Risks a CIO Must Avoid post is, , ,

There is a reason why I listed this one first. I believe the biggest risk of all is when the IT organization is focused on “X, Y, and Z” and your company needs you to focus on “A,B and C”.

Studies have suggested for many years that over 50% of all IT organizations are out of sync with their company, , , i.e., the “business”. I’ve seen this firsthand in many situations and the interesting thing about it is that, , , the CIO doesn’t realize or think he or she is out of sync when it occurs.

It’s such a big deal that you see in most CEO and CIO surveys that this issue is almost always in the Top 3 of their List of Concerns.

It only takes an hour or two in an IT assessment to discover if the IT organization is “in sync” or “out of sync” with the business, , , not a lot of time.

So, why do CIO’s who are out of sync with their business clients not realize this?

There could be several reasons but I think it usually comes down to, , , they aren’t communicating with and listening to their client (senior managers and department managers of the company).

Let’s take a quick look at what you hear in an IT assessment when the IT organization is not aligned with the business, , , the “IT – Business disconnect” exists:

Senior managers say:

  • “We spend a lot of money in IT, but not always sure what it is for or why.”
  • “We aren’t always aware of what IT is working on.”

If your senior management team says these things, , , you are out of sync with the business.

Here is why, , , if you develop an IT strategy and communicate it with your senior management team and gain their agreement and commitment (meaning they will fund and support it), , , then there is no way for them to say the things I listed above.

Senior management becomes an integral part of your IT strategy. In fact, if you handle it properly, it becomes a “company strategy”, , , not an IT strategy. When other department managers learn about these plans, it comes across less confrontational when it is delivered as a “company plan” versus a set of “IT initiatives”.

So, the key to staying in sync with the business and avoiding an IT – Business disconnect is to:

  1. Conduct an IT assessment to determine the business needs and issues your IT organization should address.
  2. Develop an IT strategy based upon these needs and issues.
  3. Communicate your strategy to the senior management team in order to:
    1. Create awareness
    2. Gain agreement that it is an appropriate set of initiatives for IT to focus on
    3. Gain senior management’s commitment, , , they will fund and support the initiatives you recommend the IT organization should focus on

Do these things and there is no way for you to have an IT – Business disconnect in your company.

Where CIO’s get in trouble is that they don’t take time to conduct a thorough IT assessment and to develop an IT strategy based upon the business needs and issues they would discover. Often, this is because they are focusing on technology, , , and not the business.

It’s all about the business, , , it’s not about the technology.

Technology is only something that’s needed to achieve the ultimate goal of a company, , , technology is usually not the core competency of the company.

Technology is important certainly, , , even critical in most companies, , , but it is not the real focus of the company to achieve its goals and objectives.

Because most of us in IT are shy and introverted, we tend to skip the communication parts. We would prefer to just be able to go work on the projects and not have to communicate where we are going, why we need to do things, , , we would just like to have our teams go do the work.

Unfortunately, this won’t work.

Successful CIO’s know how important effective communication is in their success so they implement communication processes that forces their organization to communicate.

So, develop your recommended initiatives from the business needs and issues, communicate and gain agreement from senior management, , , and then, and only then invest time, resources and money on these projects.

Do this and your IT organization will always be aligned with the business.