Are You a New CIO? 5 Moves You’ll Need to Make Before the Honeymoon is Over (and what to do after)

New challenges, new opportunities and the chance to enact positive change.  Whether your new role as a CIO is lateral or an ascending position, you’ll need to be ready to tackle challenges that are far different than those you may have encountered in the past.  In any case, congratulations on your new role!  Now, let’s get to work. 

 

PART I:  5 STRATEGIC MOVES YOU’LL NEED TO MAKE BEFORE THE HONEMOON IS OVER

With digital disruption now fueling business transformation, CIOs are well positioned to drive the leadership agenda.  Unfortunately, the pressure is on to get quick traction. New CIO’s have approximately 30 days to assess the current state of the organization’s IT landscape and begin to build and solidify relationships with key stakeholders, decision makers and influencers.  After 90 days, this honeymoon stage comes to an end, and the expectations for performance and positive change are suddenly much more significant.

With this in mind, you need to focus on the right priorities, and with swift precision.  Let’s consider some of the key items you can address to make some measurable progress before the honeymoon comes to an end.

1.  Identify Key Stakeholders – Recognize the decision makers and experts who control approval and execution of your plans. Find out quickly, who has control and influence on the business agenda — who actually controls the purse strings.  Also, identify the major actors on point for driving business transformation.

2.  Create Positive Relationships – Align yourself with Division Heads and Executive Leadership; especially target IT “detractors” — skeptics who could be receptive to aligning with your strategy. Just don’t rely on emails.  Breakfasts, lunches, and dinners are all are good opportunities to open the door and personalize your interaction.  Face to face interaction is invaluable to build trust.

3.  Identify your Achilles heel – Look first for exposure in security issues or your mobility program. Workforces need to stay connected to be able to access work tools and information regardless of where they are located, but a lack of comprehensive security measures can be crippling to an organization.  Also look at what the state of compliance is in.  Are there any imminent security breaches or risk mitigation that require attention or remediation?

4.  Evaluate your team – You may have inherited the prior CIO’s problem team and need to shuffle the cards. “Interview” your team. Identify your top talent.  Check out current performance reviews and get input from your peers. Make some early, high value changes if needed.  Eventually you will likely need to make broader changes to get the A-team in key spots and replace them with those that are not performing up to par.

5.  Construct and socialize your plan – simply. Your vision, IT strategy and draft road map needs to be shared with key stakeholders, making it clear how your plans address their strategic imperatives and are aligned with long range plans.  Be able to articulate in simple, clear terms how your actions will move the needle positively on the important metrics.

 

PART II:  WHAT TO DO WHEN THE HONEYMOON IS OVER

In your new role as CIO, you’ve reviewed and addressed the most imminent issues at hand – identified and strengthened relationships with key stakeholders, addressed any imminent risk management issues, evaluated your team, and communicated your strategic plan.  Now it’s time to tackle some of those longer-term strategic challenges and areas of focus.  Here’s what comes next:

  • Governance – Recommend any needed changes in IT governance, especially those involving oversight of IT portfolio/investments. Take a hard look at in-flight programs.  You may need to slow down or even stop certain active projects to push the important ones forward on a timely basis.  Work carefully through this portfolio management activity with your peers and Steering Committee.  It’s complex and challenging to find your way through the “mine field” of vested interests and other leader’s skin in the game.
  • Outsourcing – Review your current IT Operating model and your key vendors. Identify if there are opportunities to consolidate and/or outsource commodity level activities to partners.  It’s also critical to understand current commitments and if SLA’s are being met. Additionally, make sure you are responsive to your internal and external customers, providing open communication channels to get real-time feedback.
  • Key Services – Assess the organization’s key services with an eye to stabilize and improve IT service performance if it’s not up to par. Review available stakeholder surveys and put in place processes to make productive changes.  Continuous improvement plans are the boring norm, and the slow path to impact.  Consider amping up these activities with training and execution approaches that encourage “continuous innovation.”  Take a tough look at your service catalog.  Make concrete plans, with assigned owners and due dates to evolve your services toward meeting the highest priority longer term needs of the business.
  • Spend/Budget – Examine your current IT spend and budget and see if it’s providing you the return you need to make some immediate recommendations. Understand if the IT spending is in line with market and industry norms. Typically, IT spend in large Pharmaceutical companies is between 3.5 and 4%.  For smaller Pharmaceutical and Biotech companies it can be higher, given the potential immaturity in the life cycle.
  • Processes – evaluate how your operation compares to ITIL standards. You don’t need to fully implement a complete ITIL based framework, but start small and use this framework as a guide and identify some material opportunities by making this comparison.
  • Shadow IT – You may come to realize that there are business units developing digital solutions with or without IT. To combat this, develop a rational plan to avoid technology investments made without IT’s involvement or knowledge.
  • Point Solutions – Solutions designed to fix problems with a specific technology that won’t last long in the marketplace can be a significant hindrance to IT. These one-off technologies are often not well integrated with enterprise systems, not architected to scale, and the often expose the firm to potential cyber security risks.

 

CIOs who don’t offer relevant digital business solutions face losing both people and budget – as well as influence and credibility.  Ultimately, struggling CIOs will be relegated to mere guardians of basic infrastructure and commodity solutions. Build relationships and trust early on with key stakeholders; move aggressively and thoughtfully on the immediate priorities; then tackle the longer-term strategic components.  With the right road map and execution in place, you will build credibility rapidly, establish solid a reputation, and gain some quick wins in the process.

 

Joan Walker  |  Principal  |  TayganPoint Consulting Group  |  jwalker@tayganpoint.com

Jon Hunt  |  Senior Consultant  |  TayganPoint Consulting Group  |  jhunt@tayganpoint.com

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