The Universe of The Chief Information Officer

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CIO Universe

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Freshman CIO – Transformation in 365 Days

I have reached the end of my one year as a freshman CIO. Having been in IT, managing projects and IT departments for the past 12 years those 3 letters in my title carries the burden of either succeeding or failing miserably. In my case, the last year has been a success.

I was hired to guide my firm through strategic changes. Having the depth of knowledge of working in start-up environments and working through a few M&As, I was able to transform a weak department and set it on a path towards value. This was not easy. The department lacked confidence and direction. I came in with new ideas on how IT should be managed. My philosophy as a CIO is simple. “It’s all about people and processes. Technology is last.”

I had a Two-Phased Plan. I wanted IT to have transparency, accountability and accessibility, I restructured everything we do to align IT with those themes and to deliver a much more customer service-oriented solution.

Such an alignment calls for change, and you cannot make fundamental change without a strategic plan.

With a greater emphasis on IT management I initiated a portfolio-management process. Using my experience working in the financial sector where streamlined IT approaches are common I took each project and developed a cost/benefit analysis showing what the business will gain from these projects. This was a victory. For the first time, the business can see and measure tangible information that IT can and will deliver.

The second phase of the strategic plan was to build a road map for what IT will do over the next year.

Projects focused on strategic and operational initiatives. I had to rebuild my environment and the only way to move forward strategically was to have a stable and scalable operational environment.

In implementing this plan the pace of change was rapid. I set organizational processes, stopped doing some things, got better at others, and started new initiatives. At the end of the day I had to balance business needs with technology needs.

Where Is Your Risk Assessment?

One of the few analyses that are overlooked in most IT departments is a comprehensive risk assessment.

A risk assessment should identify, analyze, and weigh all the potential risks, threats and hazards to a company’s internal and external business environment. 

The process of identifying risks/threats, probability of occurrence, the vulnerability to each risk/threat and the potential impact that could be caused, is necessary to prepare preventative measures and create recovery strategies.  Risk identification provides a number of other advantages to a company including: 

  • Exposes previously overlooked vulnerabilities that need to be addressed by plans and procedures
  • Identifies where preventative measures are lacking or need reevaluation
  • Can point out the importance of contingency planning to get staff and management on board
  • Will assist in documenting interdependencies and point out single points of failures

An effective risk management process is an important component of a company’s MIS department. The principal goal is to protect a company and its ability to perform its mission, not just its IT assets. Therefore, the risk management process should not be treated primarily as a technical function carried out by the IT, but as an essential management function of the organization.

Risk is the net negative impact of the exercise of vulnerability, considering both the probability and the impact of occurrence. Risk management is the process of identifying risk, assessing risk, and taking steps to reduce risk to an acceptable level. This assessment provides a foundation for the development of an effective risk management program, containing both the definitions and the practical guidance necessary for assessing and mitigating risks identified within IT systems. The ultimate goal is to help a company better manage IT-related mission risks.

CIO Blogs for January 2011

Better Communication: Technology Isn’t Always The Best Solution by Mike SchaffnerCIO Blogs

CIO as General Manager? by Mark Brewer

Can a CIO be successful without IT experience? Define your terms! by Peter Kretzman

Four Models for success for the CTO / CIO- CTOVision by Eric Brown

Why CIOs Need Management Power Maps To Get Anything Done by Jim Anderson

How To Cope When The Boss Is A Bully by Andy Blumenthal

CIO Blogs for November 2010

CIO BlogsCreating a vision by Don Lewis

One CIO’s “lessons learned” in managing others by Peter Kretzman

Is Project Management a skill or a technique? by Eric D. Brown

Selfishness and The Paradox of Emotional Intelligence by Andy Blumenthal

IT Staff to End User Ratio

Is there a rule of thumb for the number of IT staff to the number of end users? No.

No two companies are the same. If that were the case there would be a hard and fast rule we all would follow.  So comparing the ratios of man to machine will not determine the correct ratio. IT staffing ratios might come into play in larger companies. Efficiencies of scale coupled with segregation of job responsibilities allow larger companies to trend those ratios to some pretty high numbers. But even in these cases I would be cautious.

Take a step back and ask the following questions:

  • How many systems do you need to manage?
  • How many customized systems do you need to manage?
  • Is your business complex?
  • What is the geographic structure of your business and locations?
  • Do you have a standard operating environment in place?
  • What is the level of your infrastructure (laptops/ pcs/ servers/ printers/ backuptools, connectivity ) etc?
  • What is management’s approach, how much support do they want and in what time frame?
  • How many help desk calls are you receiving?
  • Are the help desk calls emergencies, regular maintenance, user errors?
  • Are help desk calls occurring 24×7?
  • Is there adequate backup to the handle workload when staff are sick, on vacation, etc?

Your answers above will determine the adequate number of IT staff to support your business environment.

CIO Blogs for September 2010

Technology to the rescue! (or not) by Don LewisCIO Blogs

What’s wrong with today’s IT? by Eric D. Brown

Why IT Must Embrace Facebook, Twitter, iPhone by Mike Schaffner

Another variation for the CIO (Chief Imagination Officer) by Oh I See (CIO Inverted)

100 Days as CIO; A Retrospective by Isaac Sacolick

Why Do None Of The Other Kids Want To Play With The CIO? by Jim Anderson