The CIO's Calendar: December's Your Time to Assess the Past and Face the Future


By Don Desiderato

This is the fourth installment in our new monthly blog series, The CIO's Calendar, in which we'll give you insights on how to plan your time in the month ahead as you look to allocate resources and develop new initiatives. In this installment, we explore the items that every CIO should have on the calendar for December 2011 in order to prepare for your short- and long-term needs.

It has been a hectic year, and you have battled day-to-day issues, delivered on projects and concentrated on strategic, long-term planning. Take a breath and look back on your accomplishments in 2011 and also look forward to 2012.

Now is the time for CIOs to be thinking seriously about how to communicate the state of information technology to business executives, rather than simply racing to 2012.

Business executives need to be continually educated about the state of their information technology organization, and members of your own IT organization must be reminded of their accomplishments, improvement areas and strategic context. The year's end is a logical point for you to focus on this type of communication.

Consider creating two documents, The Year in Review and The State of Technology.

The Year in Review is designed to discuss specific organizational progress--both good and bad. The document should be created by the CIO and shared with the executive leadership team. Assuming that there is no confidential HR information included (e.g., discussion of succession planning), this document should be shared with the IT organization at large.

The State of Technology should provide a report on the overall condition of the organization's IT, such as the state of modernity, IT-business alignment, cost-effectiveness and long-term strategic objectives. This document should also be shared with executive leadership and the IT organization.

Let's discuss both documents in more detail:

1. The Year in Review: The primary purpose is to honestly portray 2011 IT accomplishments, issues and failures in the most transparent way possible. This document should be shared with the executive leadership team, where results can be discussed openly. This gives the CIO an opportunity to demonstrate leadership, as it shows a thorough understanding of all IT matters. The CIO can also share this document across IT and use it to celebrate successes and discuss issues. While topics can change from year to year, a typical document will cover:

  • operational stability;
  • project delivery success;
  • new product introductions;
  • advancement of the architecture;
  • financial prudence;
  • key metrics, issues;
  • human resources matters.

2. The State of Technology: This document provides a holistic view of IT and a viewpoint on the long-term architectural vision. It's intended to give executive leadership a sense of your IT vision and a description of the journey to achieve that vision. The format tends to be consistent year to year, and covers topics such as:

  • mission of the organization;
  • high-level value statement on the overall condition of IT;
  • self assessment of how the organization is performing against key measurement areas, such as systems reliability; cost effectiveness; level of modernity; creativity of technology solutions; strength of information security; long-term architectural needs; and an execution road map.

These documents provide a mechanism for the CIO to discuss IT matters broadly across the organization and articulate a long-term vision. Happy writing!

About the Author Don Desiderato is principal at Novarica and a former divisional CIO.


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