Effective CIO
Management

Part 4: The four hallmarks of an effective CIO: Ability

Three weeks ago here on Planet Mainframe I introduced the idea that a CIO must excel in 4 areas: Alignment, Architecture, Agility and Ability. Over the last weeks we had a close look at IT Alignment, Architecture and Agility. This week we wrap up visiting IT Ability.

4. Ability

Ability means IT’s responsibility to deliver, around the clock and around the world, a set of complex services to a diverse group of customers. These services include keeping the networks running (voice, data, telemetry, cellular, etc.); providing security (and its opposite, access); ensuring applications work smoothly and without undue delay; making data available (reports, queries, databases); interoperating with counter parties of many types, from financial institutions to customers to suppliers; provisioning new users, locations, applications…and on and on.

Delivering IT services is like operating a factory. There are many inputs, outputs and products. There are manufacturing processes that must be followed and MRO (Maintenance, Repair, Operations) supplies that are needed. Production lines break down and need repair, and the lines must be retooled for new products and manufacturing process upgrades.

The glamorous part of the CIO’s world is innovation, organization transformation, industry disruption. But if the factory isn’t humming along, the glamour is all for nothing. Thomas Edison said, “Vision without Execution is Hallucination,” and that certainly applies to the CIO’s world.

There is nothing magical about operating a factory. It’s about processes, monitoring, quality and cost control. I started my career as a manufacturing engineer, so it seems pretty straightforward to me. But there are countless IT departments that have trouble mastering the skills and therefore produce substandard IT “products.”

My only advice to the CEO/Board is this: if your CIO can’t run a proper IT factory in 2016, get a new CIO. Your organization depends too much on the Ability of IT to produce results to accept less.

Organizations come in many shapes and sizes, and there are many types of CIOs delivering results using a variety of techniques. As a CEO/Director you don’t have to understand the inner workings of IT to oversee it effectively. What you do need to do is ensure that your CIO is effective at four things: Alignment, Architecture, Agility and Ability.

Part 1: The four hallmarks of an effective CIO

Part 2: The four hallmarks of an effective CIO: Architecture

Part 3: The four hallmarks of an effective CIO: Agility

See the entire article in DirectionIT magazine.

Wayne Sadin
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