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Pressure Points

Pressure Points

While CIOs all have different ways of tackling pressure, they all point to its single source: everywhere

"With SKM's continued growth, there is a continuous need to review organization structure and make both incremental and step changes. One of the big traps for some CIOs is they come in, fix up a mess and continue to operate without focusing on the need for ongoing changes. They are not reviewing operations quickly enough, and with today's rapid technology changes, IT groups need frequent reviews. Often companies get a new CIO in to fix operations and then replace them with another CIO to run the ongoing stable environment. This model does not really work any more. The complete CIO now needs to be both a hunter and a farmer," Nevin says.

"You have to keep a pulse check on the morale in the IT group." Nevin has an IT staff of about 150 people around the world. "It's the walking and talking and cups of coffee and racking up lots of frequent flyer miles. There would rarely be a two-week period when I would not be travelling," he says, adding that he makes regular trips both overseas and around Australia. Supporting him is "a management team that behaves as a management team not as a technology team. A lot of dealing with stress is good management and good communication."

That communication also extends to informing the IT team about upcoming plans and projects, says Nevin. "It's easy to sit back and say: 'Microsoft has a new operating system, and we will wait and make a decision on implementation in six months.' It's better to forward plan releases as early as possible — it makes your IT team better educated than the user base and also immediately disarms the hobbyist approach from users who often seek the newest version," he says.

The one thing that CIOs have to learn to avoid, however, is the fix-it approach to IT management. "Many CIOs come up through IT," says Nevin, "and their skill set is good at fixing crises, so CIOs often let the problem happen and then fix it. And therein lies the stress."

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