CEO-CIO Alignment is Not A Guessing Game

CEO-CIO Alignment is Not A Guessing Game

It was 2002 and I had been asked to step up into the CIO seat. At the time, I was the head of Infrastructure. I had built an excellent reputation as a “get it done” leader which had resulted from a very effective technology integration of two equal-sized merged companies. It was a tough decision. I knew I was not ready, and I wasn’t confident I wanted the job. I accepted the position to prevent someone from coming in from the outside.
 

Oh, how I often wish for a do-over. Though I was a member of the senior executive leadership, I was not accepted as a partner. I did not deserve to be. I was frustrated on many fronts as I knew I needed to step it up. As such, I requested funding to subscribe to what was then the elite CIO “training” opportunity under the Meta Group CIO mentoring program. My assigned CIO Coach, Louis Boyle, saved me big time. As my coach and mentor, he helped me to see beyond my experience and taught me to look at business problems strategically as solutions to be solved. At that time, mobile computing and business intelligence were promising technologies and I got lucky with vendor and business partners willing to work with us on some pretty leading-edge technology solutions. It helped that I had a fantastic IT team on my side.

Fast forward to today and the technology solutions back then appear to be out of an old science fiction movie. The capabilities coming out of the digital transformation are driving the integration of technology into all areas of the business. They are changing how companies operate and deliver to their customers. The hardest part is the cultural change requirements that require leaders to continuously challenge the status quo, experiment with courage, and grow comfortable with failure.

All these things have elevated the CIO role, yet I still see IT leaders struggle to collaborate with business units at a strategic level effectively. Too many times, CIO’s and their IT organization are thought to be a barrier to change and sadly in some cases they are believed to be order takers. To add to the challenge is the breadth of expectations of the IT leadership. Fundamentally, they must make sure they are delivering on core services like email and network access. If the core services are not working, no one will be interested in hearing their innovative strategic ideas.

While some challenges still exist, a 2018 State of the CIO survey reported stronger alignment between IT and their business partners. Almost three-quarters of the survey responses said IT and the business engage more frequently when there is shared oversight.

CIOs have the opportunity to play a significant role in assisting the business in driving innovation. This opportunity is greatly enhanced when the CIO is looked at as a strategic advisor.

How do you find out where you stand? It is best to ASK.

You can ask through conversation. It is not very time-consuming on both the CEO and the CIO. Unfortunately, there is a tendency for the CIO not to ask and it is not the priority of the CEO to tell.

You can ask through a survey tool. Fortunately, two InfoTech diagnostic tools have proven very helpful in both measuring and identifying opportunities to improve – the CEO-CIO Alignment Diagnostic and the CIO Business Vision diagnostic.  

 

CEO-CIO Alignment Diagnostic

The CEO-CIO Alignment Diagnostic measures six critical areas of IT performance to enable the prioritization of improvement initiatives. The survey questionnaire is only 20 questions that can be completed in less than 20 minutes. Areas addressed include the CEO’s overall satisfaction of IT, IT budget, staffing, business needs for technology, performance measurements, project portfolio progress, and stakeholder alignment.

Here is a snapshot view of the CEO-CIO alignment with the business goals view:
 
A feature of the report that resonates with both the CEO and CIO is the comparison of the CEO and CIO’s performance perceptions. A snapshot of the report is portrayed here. The gap in perceptions enables the CIO to provoke what may be the most candid conversation across the life of the CIO career. The visibility into the gaps between the CIO and CEO perception is priceless in providing the basis for the CIO focus and direction.


CIO Business Vision Diagnostic

The second tool I use is the Info-Tech CIO Business Vision Diagnostic. The insights and benefits of this diagnostic are broad. It looks at the needs of the stakeholders, enables getting beyond rumor and opinion to facts, and provides a baseline performance and capacity measurement at both the organization and the department level. An outcome of the report is the insight that enables a focus on what is essential to the business. The CIO Business Vision is most effective when it is executed periodically. CIO’s find the overall performance and capacity metrics will play an essential role in governance and strategy decisions and action plans.

IN CLOSING

 
To assure the success and effectiveness of their IT organization, CIO’s cannot leave their relationship with the CEO to chance:
  • As investment in technology continues to increase, management and control of the IT budget rests on internal IT leadership AND CIO’s need the trust of the CEO to retain that control.
  • The need for collaboration between heads of IT and LOB leaders continues to increase.
  • Availability of skilled resources will continue to plague the CIO, requiring an even greater need to measure performance.
  • As the focus continues to shift to digital transformation, there’s a high potential for more technology decisions to be made outside of IT, driving a higher need for collaboration between IT, CEO, and business peer. CIO’s cannot leave their relationship with the CEO to chance.

Even though a CIO benefits from focusing on stakeholder management and relationship building, there is value in measuring the perception of the CEO and business peers against your own.

I am providing you a link to the InfoTech CEO-CIO Alignment and the CIO Business Vision sample reports. If either sparks your interest, give me a call to discuss how diagnostics might ensure your success.

Until next time – I am here if you have questions or want to talk!

Regards,
Mary

 
 

Mary Patry 
IT Executive Advisor and Leadership Coach   
 480.393.0722 (AZ) 
 Mary.Patry@iteffectivity.com 
LinkedIn: http:// www.linkedin.com/in/mleonardopatry 

Let’s Talk sponsored by ITeffectivity.com an IT Executive Coaching and Advisory practice targeting CIO’s challenge of leading and delivering business solutions with a focus on effective people and process capabilities. Discover the possibilities by scheduling a complimentary strategy session with Mary Patry. 

Four IT Spend Questions in Need of Answers

Four IT Spend Questions in Need of Answers

Effective IT management is not necessarily about spending less – or more; it’s about allocating dollars, resources, and talent wisely and monitoring for benefits realization on many fronts.

Surprisingly, many IT organizations do not harvest the data nor have disciplines in place to readily answer a few seemingly easy questions about their IT investments:

  1. Where are our IT dollars, resources, and talent deployed today?
  2. Do we have the data and processes in place to present a business view of IT investments?
  3. How do our IT resource allocations, costs, and performance compare to others in the industry, especially top performers?
  4. Are our IT investments aligned to business objectives?

Although closing in on the answers may be a never-ending journey, Martha Hein, one of ITeffectivity’s Program Directors and a Cost Management extraordinaire, outlines the steps you can take to get there.

Let’s get started!

1. Where are our IT dollars, resources, and talent deployed today?

Running the Business of IT depends on the timely availability, analysis, and understanding of quantifiable IT financial and operations data. To demonstrate benefits realization and the value being delivered to the business, IT must first be able to communicate what services are being provided, at what cost and for what return. The first step to answering this question is to compile your data into a scalable model. Data sources include extracts from your financial systems (actual spend by GL and Cost Center, fixed asset registers, prepaid services balance sheets, Purchase Orders, etc.), HR, Payroll and Timekeeping systems as well as IT systems (Active Directory, CMDB, Infrastructure and Applications Monitoring, Service Ticketing, etc.).

Data models are useful tools to measure how your dollars, resources, and talent are being spent today and may elucidate how these might be more profitably spent tomorrow. Data models and taxonomies vary, but the Technology Business Management (TBM) Council1 provides an excellent public domain example of the inputs required to gather the foundational data necessary to answer this question.

This data provides the first building blocks required for transparent fact-based communications between IT and business leaders.

2. Do we have the data and processes in place to present a business view of IT investments?

As stated above, the IT Financial and IT Functional views of your IT investments are the first building blocks used for running the Business of IT. The endgame, however, is to have a clear Business view of IT investments. To create a Business view, you must reframe IT investments from a business perspective. Arriving at a Business view requires additional analysis of the above data and may require other inputs.

Business leaders are interested in achieving operational excellence and realizing profitable growth, innovation, and transformation for their organizations. To deliver optimal value to the businesses they serve, IT organizations must proactively manage their investments and services portfolios to become enablers, or better yet, drivers of these business objectives. From a Business perspective, running effective and efficient day-to-day IT operations is merely to provide a commodity service.

Demonstrate you do more than keep the lights on by enhancing your data model to enable you to report on IT investments along business dimensions.

  • Business partners are often not aware of the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) of a given IT business service, the full price tag to implement, or the support cost of the technology for a given business capability. Develop a Bill of IT to provide a view of your IT investment portfolio that reveals TCO by business service and/or Line of Business. Help your business partners understand the cost drivers (without burdening them with the details of all the moving parts under the IT hood). Ideally, you understand the cost components well enough to be able to provide counsel on how to favorably impact cost without adversely impacting service levels or creating undue risk. For example, is business demand commensurate with business value? Can you move away from Tier 1 storage or reduce the number of user application licenses without impacting productivity?  
                                                                                                                             
  • Demonstrating return on investments requires that you identify the criteria that will be used to measure benefits realization and then establish a baseline against which to measure outcomes. Work with your business partners to define criteria and baselines, then implement on-going monitoring of benefits realization based on agreed-upon measures.

3. How do our IT resource allocations, costs, and performance compare to others in the industry, especially top performers?

Measuring your cost and service performance against industry benchmarks can uncover opportunities for efficiency improvements, thus allowing you to do more with less. Or, more of what is profitable, less of what is marginal, and none of what is just plain wasteful. You will use the data gathered to answer the above questions and simple arithmetic to answer question No. 3. Total IT spend divided by Corporate Revenue equals IT Cost as Percent of Revenue. IT Dollars spent divided by Units supported/produced equals Unit Cost. Setting up the formulas for performance measures may be trickier and the results may not be as objective, but is still relatively uncomplicated. You meet or exceed your Service Level Agreements ##% of the time. On average, you get either an X or a Y on Customer Satisfaction Surveys.

As an important caveat, industry benchmark data typically provides averages. When put in context, there may be legitimate business-driven reasons why your organization’s results vary from others in the industry. For example, if your business strategy is to pursue aggressive growth through Mergers and Acquisitions, you will need to funnel resources from Run the Business and Transform/Innovate the Business to Grow the Business and/or accept a higher cost of IT as a percent of Revenue. In another example, if you are aggressively pursuing rapid innovations in your product R&D pipeline, you may want to overlook typical storage costs in favor of being able to model and readily access every permutation of promising molecular structures.

4. Are our IT investments aligned to business objectives?

Start with an easy top-down mapping exercise. Utilize your organization’s core business strategies. Ideally, IT leadership was at the table when these were defined. Identify the core competencies2 and specific Business and IT capabilities that are required to support the strategy. Map the IT programs that support each of the pillars of the strategy.

In Closing

It is difficult to know with any degree of certainty if your IT investments are aligned to your business objectives until you have at least preliminary answers to the previous questions. Do not allow a possible lack of a comprehensive data set to detract from taking proactive action.

We will cover additional aspects of running the “Business of IT” in future articles. We welcome your feedback on what has worked well for your organization and where you continue to feel pain points.

Until next time – we are here if you have questions or want to talk!

Martha and Mary

Mary Patry 
IT Executive Advisor and Leadership Coach   
 480.393.0722 (AZ) 
 Mary.Patry@iteffectivity.com 
LinkedIn: http:// www.linkedin.com/in/mleonardopatry 

Let’s Talk sponsored by ITeffectivity.com an IT Executive Coaching and Advisory practice targeting CIO’s challenge of leading and delivering business solutions with a focus on effective people and process capabilities. Discover the possibilities by scheduling a complimentary strategy session with Mary Patry. 

You are invited! Learn the Three Phases to IT Strategy Development January 29, 2020

You are invited! Learn the Three Phases to IT Strategy Development January 29, 2020

I get it; the Holidays are busy.  The last thing on your mind was reading a business-related email or blog Christmas Eve.  In case you missed it – here it is again:  

https://www.iteffectivity.com/blog-1/2019/12/23/a-gift-to-kick-off-2020/

I am sending follow up to assure you don’t miss an opportunity to join us on January 29 from 1-3 MST, where I will walk registered participants through our IT Strategy Planning template.  At the end of the session, all participants will receive an editable copy of the template.  

To register:  IT Strategy Planning Webinar 

Registration is complimentary and limited.  I hope to see you there! 

Until next week!

Mary

Mary Patry 
IT Executive Advisor and Leadership Coach   
 480.393.0722 (AZ) 
 Mary.Patry@iteffectivity.com 
LinkedIn: http:// www.linkedin.com/in/mleonardopatry 

Let’s Talk sponsored by ITeffectivity.com an IT Executive Coaching and Advisory practice targeting CIO’s challenge of leading and delivering business solutions with a focus on effective people and process capabilities. Discover the possibilities by scheduling a complimentary strategy session with Mary Patry. 

A Gift to Kick Off 2020

A Gift to Kick Off 2020

It is hard to believe that 52 weeks have passed since I last expressed my love of the holiday season. My wish is that everyone will have a fantastic day in whatever way you chose to spend it. We are expecting to spend the holiday with five of our nine grandchildren. We very much wish they all could be here. There is nothing like experiencing the wonders of Christmas through the eyes of children. 

Once Santa has come and gone and the holiday decorations are all put away, we will turn our focus to the New Year! Last March, I gifted my IT Strategy Framework to my readers. I am offering a direct link to a refreshed version again here:  

Most of my consulting practice over the last five years has focused on mid-sized companies. Many times I found IT Strategy was the first gap to address.  I give my IT Strategy e-book as a starting point to CIO’s since I no longer offer strategy planning as a consulting offering.

The framework is relatively simple but thorough. It was built from over 30 years of corporate IT leadership experience. It is most applicable to mid to large-sized corporate enterprises and can be adapted to smaller firms as well. Substantial IT organizations will need to add a risk management framework.

Many readers reached out with feedback and questions as well as request for guidance in executing the strategy framework. As a gift for 2020, I am hosting a 90-minute complimentary webinar on January 29, from 1-2:30 MST, where I will walk registered participants through the IT Strategy Planning Workshop. At the end of the session, all participants will receive an editable copy of the template.

To register:  IT Strategy Planning Webinar 

Registration is limited. I hope to see you there!

While I have you, I want to invite you to check out my weekly ITeffectivity Articles and associated Resources Page on my website. New articles are posted each week on the Webpage and LinkedIn. If you prefer to receive them in an e-mail, you can subscribe here via https://www.iteffectivity.com/blog/.

The articles are an accumulation of over 30 years of IT leadership experience. They are my opportunity to pay it forward for all that others have so generously given to me. At this giving time of year, I hope you feel inspired to do the same. We all benefit from uplifting our IT community leadership capabilities.

Until Next Year – have a safe and happy week. Happy Holidays!

Mary

Mary Patry 
IT Executive Advisor and Leadership Coach   
 480.393.0722 (AZ) 
 Mary.Patry@iteffectivity.com 
LinkedIn: http:// www.linkedin.com/in/mleonardopatry 

Let’s Talk sponsored by ITeffectivity.com an IT Executive Coaching and Advisory practice targeting CIO’s challenge of leading and delivering business solutions with a focus on effective people and process capabilities. Discover the possibilities by scheduling a complimentary strategy session with Mary Patry. 

Building Your Communication Stage

Building Your Communication Stage


A communication strategy is the critical piece
to bridging the purpose and the implementation of your vision or any major change program. It is a written plan that details the stakeholders and how the message will reach its audience.   

An effective communication strategy starts with determining clear objectives that include strong motivation behind the message to be delivered. You can start by answering three questions:    

  1. WHY is it important to YOU as the IT Leader to inform your IT team and IT stakeholders of the IT Department Vision, Mission, Values and Principles as well as the overall IT strategy?   
  2. WHAT can they expect to see differently?   
  3. HOW will the change be implemented?  

Knowing the answers to these simple questions will articulate the intentions and outcomes of the strategy.  

To validate the assumption behind your answers as well as develop your communication strategy, my recommendation for a planning approach follows three phases

  1. Prepare 
  • Identify the gaps between the existing behaviors and capabilities and the future state desired outcomes 
  • Define your change management strategy and communication approach   
    • Who are your stakeholders?  What do they need to know?  
    • How will you present the strategy, vision, mission and values 
    • What activities will bring the changes to life for the stakeholders?  
    • What communication platforms will you use with which stakeholders (e.g. all-hands, 1:1 conversation, email messaging, recorded video)?   
  • Prepare your change management team 
    • Who is your change management team?  
    • What are their roles and responsibilities?  
    • How will you assure everyone is delivering the same message? 
      • Role playing and practice 
      • Frequently asked questions  
  • Develop your sponsorship model 
    • Is your upline executive on board and behind you?  
    • Who do you need to vet the change and communication plan in order to assure their support?  

2. Manage 

  • Develop change management plans 
  • Develop and execute action and implementation plans 

3. Reinforce 

  • Collect and analyze feedback  
  • Diagnose gaps and manage resistance 
  • Implement corrective actions  
  • Celebrate successes 

As you build and execute your communication strategy it is important to have a strong foundation to launch from, a willingness to trial, and to be open to adjusting your approach based on experience and feedback. With that I offer you tips from personal experience:   

  1.  People won’t just open up to those they don’t trust. You can’t force trust. You must earn it. You earn it by acting and thinking right. Be honest with yourself and acknowledge where you have gaps in trust with stakeholders.

  2.  Know what and who you need to personally communicate with and to whom you can delegate.  The what and who is amplified by how much change is planned or needs to occur. Take the time needed to assure all delegates are representing the collective message and not slanted with their own agenda. Bring the delegates together periodically, be it daily or weekly, to share the context and feedback from the conversations held. In other words, own the delivery even if someone is representing you. 
  3.  An essential part of good communication is listening. Never try to end your conversation if you don’t listen and understand what is being spoken. Have you ever been amazed at the memory of great leaders? It is because they listen. Listen well and respond properly. Listening skills are the foremost thing you must possess for IT communication skills development
  4.  Don’t jump to conclusions based on one person’s conversation. Listen to others before reacting.  Multiple inputs enable us to form the best opinion. 
  5. Once you have listened and comprehended what you have heard, take the time necessary to think and then plan what you want to say. There is no foul in thinking before you react. Wars start when one does not stop to think first. 
  6. Believe it or not, we are not always right. Sometimes we make mistakes. The important thing is to admit it and understand where your thinking may have gone wrong. Acknowledge it and adjust from there. 
  7. Train yourself to focus. It is becoming harder and harder due to multi-tasking and the overwhelming amount of information coming our way. We must try to never allow our minds to roam or dream while we are speaking or listening. Not only is it offensive, but you are guaranteed to miss the point. 
  8. Don’t be shy about asking someone to repeat, rephrase, or simply slow down. I will admit I am accent challenged. My brain does not decipher accents well. I have grown beyond pretending I understand when I don’t. It is not worth the risk of misunderstanding and it is rude.
     
  9. Make a point of observing yourself when you communicate with others. Take note of your body language. Body language impact on communication can be a whole session or two by itself.    Our facial expressions and body stance have a huge impact on how well we are heard and how comfortable people are with sharing feedback. If you stop to think about it, you will understand the concern. 

As I finish up today’s article, I realize that some may feel I am overstating the importance of building the stage to communicate your strategy purposefully. You may be thinking – why can’t we just execute and take it from there?  

You certainly can, and it may work. At the same time, you will miss the opportunity to assure awareness and expectations behind the vision and mission. More importantly, you will miss the opportunity to partner with your stakeholders and solicit their involvement in executing against your strategy.  

 I am here if you want to talk about it more.    

Until next week!  

Mary

Mary Patry 
IT Executive Advisor and Leadership Coach   
 480.393.0722 (AZ) 
 Mary.Patry@iteffectivity.com 
LinkedIn: http:// www.linkedin.com/in/mleonardopatry 

Let’s Talk sponsored by ITeffectivity.com an IT Executive Coaching and Advisory practice targeting CIO’s challenge of leading and delivering business solutions with a focus on effective people and process capabilities. Discover the possibilities by scheduling a complimentary strategy session with Mary Patry. 

To Digital Strategy or not to Digital Strategy, is it not still an IT Strategy?

To Digital Strategy or not to Digital Strategy, is it not still an IT Strategy?

“It is a great time to be a CIO. IT, as a discipline, has emerged to being a business weapon. Never before has this role been as important inside businesses. You shift the thinking from being a cost center, and you are a party responsible for driving and enabling the company’s business strategy. The opportunities are endless.” – Trevor Schulze, CIO and VP of IT at Micron Technology,  

Every IT periodical publishes articles about the importance of it. Every software provider asks every IT Executive about it. Every IT Executive is expected to have one. The infamous, but not yet well understood Digital Strategy. What is it?

I was trying to recall the first time I heard the phrase – Digital Strategy. I could not remember when it was. I can remember where I was – at a CIO leadership conference. I clearly recall a lunch table of IT leaders sitting around talking about it and wondering what the hype was. Assuming we all agree that digitalization is simply the application of new technologies to automate business processes, hadn’t we always been “Digital”?   

It took me a while to get the hype, and some might say I am still tripping over myself on it.  

 I get that digital strategy has a much broader meaning and is becoming more and more of a priority to the CEO and the business in general. It is not about a new way of doing business as much as it is about how we apply technology to support the business.  

 Generally, a strategy is a plan designed to achieve business goals via the implementation of key initiatives. A digital strategy expands on the strategy to outline a plan for all the elements of a company’s digital and online suite of tools, and how they will apply them to build your business. When writing a digital strategy, it’s important to think up front about what you are trying to achieve.    

 ‘Digital” is not the end game; it is a tool used to advance the business. It includes creating a vision around how online systems will fulfill the business and external stakeholder needs. With that said, the digital strategy must be part of the business strategy.  

 Here is where I go off script from many   

 The IT strategy is an extension of the business strategy. In today’s world, these strategies must account for the digital needs of the organization. It is impossible for me to see how the strategies can be effective if built independently.  

 Most importantly, what is the CIO’s role in partnering with the CEO and other business leaders in developing the IT Strategy? Gone is the original role of the CIO to keep the lights on and the ship running. Yes, they must build and maintain solid back end core systems, but those responsibilities are table stakes.   

 With an emphasis on digital transformation, the CIO has an opportunity to advance the company’s goals by leveraging digital technologies to streamline the business and engage employees and customers.    

 It is a journey and takes focus. The journey starts with the CIO’s active participation in the development of the business strategy and the imperatives needed to deliver the digital strategy. From there, the IT Strategy is built to deliver functional business needs.   

In all sincerity, if my view is too simplistic and misses key learningsplease, shout it out. I am listening.   

 In the meantime, I am offering you my own tried and true template that I use in helping IT leaders build their strategy. Schedule time with me if you want to discuss applying it  Download your complimentary strategy building template here…. 

 Until next time, have an effective week! To further this week’s conversation, feel free to schedule time with me
and let’s talk! 

Mary Patry 
IT Executive Advisor and Leadership Coach   
 480.393.0722 (AZ) 
 Mary.Patry@iteffectivity.com 
LinkedIn: http:// www.linkedin.com/in/mleonardopatry 

Let’s Talk sponsored by ITeffectivity.com an IT Executive Coaching and Advisory practice targeting CIO’s challenge of leading and delivering business solutions with a focus on effective people and process capabilities. Discover the possibilities by scheduling a complimentary strategy session with Mary Patry.