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Top Six Time-Wasting Practices CIOs Should Avoid

Top Six Time-Wasting Practices CIOs Should Avoid

Analysts found it hard to believe there are CIOs out there still talking in tech-speak and not focusing on business performance.

Research firm Gartner has released a 'hit list' which identifies six time-wasting practices that CIOs should avoid to maintain a focus on key priorities that maximize value to the business.

At the very top of the list is a warning to CIOs to stop being the budget-priority police. Gartner vice president John Mahoney said boundary disputes need to be minimized when business units use technology, especially if these units have control over discretionary spending.

He said it's more important for CIOs to ensure that the enterprise uses technology effectively than to provide all the technology through their own IT organizations.

At number two is a warning to CIOs to stop using enterprise architecture as a command and control tool.

"Rigid standards and policies might make it easier to reduce risk in system changes, but this approach reinforces the traditional view that the IT organization doesn't understand how the enterprise needs to respond quickly to business or market changes," Mahoney said.

"Don't use architecture to control priorities and direct details of business applications; rather, use it to enable coherence."

Another time-wasting practice is when CIOs communicate using IT metrics instead of focusing on business performance.

Mahoney said the focus should be on a manageable number of IT value indicators that are meaningful to business leaders.

"They should be linked to familiar business measures, such as business goals, business strategies or business processes, and should show the current status and progress to date," he said.

"Ideally, these indicators should be jointly reported on with the appropriate business unit, or included in the business unit leader's dashboard."

Number four on the hit list isn't always an easy one to control and that is to stop the proliferation of applications, infrastructure and IT governance committees.

Mahoney believes there is often a common, underlying cause of ill-disciplined enterprise decision making.

"The critical action to fix these problems is to create and repeatedly exploit a strategic portfolio of applications and infrastructure capabilities, with associated rationalization of IT governance. This means using enterprise architecture and related mechanisms to ensure coherence," he said.

Mahoney said CIOs shouldn't waste time apologizing for past problems. He said credibility requires building strong personal relationships.

"It means being politically smart, integrating IT objectives with enterprise objectives and anticipating business needs to deploy a predictable stream of technology that enables business solutions," Mahoney said. "Repeated apologies diminish that."

And finally, stop defining services in technical rather than business terms.

"The key recommendation is to simplify the number of services offered, bundle them into a logical group and describe services so they reflect user-based activities or processes," Mahoney explained.

For example, "adding new employees", might include a suite of services, including PC, telecom and mobile device support; or "work space design and installation".

Although Gartner prepared the research after interviews with 150 CIOs, Maverick Security IT executive Sean Hopkins didn't completely agree with the hit list.

Referring to the warning about being budget priority police, Hopkins said it isn't about having central control but ensuring business units did not waste time and money on applications not suited to the organization.

"Also, enterprise architecture is not a control and command tool but should provide a strong foundation for the organization's IT road map," he said.

Hopkins also found it hard to believe there are CIOs out there still talking in tech-speak and not focusing on business performance.

"Most CIOs today speak in business terms, so I thought this one was a bit dated. I also thought the reference to repeated apologies was interesting. I didn't realize we were such an apologetic lot," he said describing the hit list as a "bit of a hit and miss affair".

Focusing strictly on technology rather than business skills, research firm Ovum this week identified IT adopted by highly effective organizations.

The findings are from a survey of 300 organizations and found a successful enterprise utilizes consolidation and virtualization technologies to create more dynamic and flexible infrastructure architectures.

Other characteristics include; significant investment in SOA, implementation of ITIL, automated IT management tools, business and IT alignment in terms of governance and SLA monitoring, and a willingness to take on new challenges from recycling strategies to experimentation with emerging social software tools to improve productivity. Ovum vice president Mary Johnston said these highly effective organizations have laid a lot of groundwork over the last couple of years by implementing virtualization, SOA and ITIL.

"They are well positioned to take advantage of the soon to be released ITIL V3 recommendations that aim to more closely integrate software development, release and operations processes," Johnston said.

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