CIOIT Best Practices

10 Tips for Leading IT through Good and Bad Times

IT did not use to be known for leadership in any sense. IT was a tank, bulky and slow to make a big change in direction, and so it could only ever play catch-up. Those days are over. IT is fast and has the ability to see opportunity and innovation before the business does. It also has a better ability to mitigate damage when things go wrong. In an article for Computerworld, Sandra Gittlen shares 10 tips from various IT experts about how IT leaders can excel in this environment:

  1. Be at the table, not just in the room.
  2. Understand the rationale for business changes.
  3. A slowdown doesn’t mean a shutdown.
  4. Develop a multi-year road map.
  5. Be transparent about your project pipeline and priorities.
  6. Don’t be an obstacle to progress.
  7. Redirect resources to innovate out of a crisis.
  8. Architect your environment to support divestitures and budget cuts.
  9. Look for added value during M&A due diligence.
  10. Don’t wait for crisis to make improvement.

Ready and Willing Leadership

Regardless of your title, if you are not an active voice in strategic decision-making, then you are not asserting your authority enough. Collaborate with executives and make your knowledge and ability known. All the same, remember that it is okay for IT not to own and command every technology decision (especially if another unit has budget to burn and IT does not), as long as IT can still play a helpful advisory role.

In times when IT budgets are shrinking and projects are halted, look at these periods as opportunities to tighten the screws. IT can refine its documentation or go to the business units, looking for functions to automate. Basically, it is the time to do all the work that usually makes people say, “Aww, there’s no time for that right now.”

In the long term, PwC finds that having a multi-year roadmap makes a major difference in business performance. Success can further be bolstered when IT conducts benefits realization cases for its larger projects. When value is certain, everyone can proceed with confidence.

Even in the realm of M&A, IT can be useful. They can identify additional technological wins that could come from acquiring another company:

When you’re doing due diligence about a merger partner or acquisition target, keep an eye out for what they can do for you. … [Former CIO Chas Hartwig’s] company had acquired another company for its book of business, sales team, and execution and delivery capabilities, but as he was exploring its assets, he found a core system way more advanced than what his organization had. His company was able to migrate onto that platform post-acquisition and get even more value from the purchase.

For further examples of all of the ideas presented above, you can view the original article here:

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