A CEO’s Guide to making IT Work!

 

The ultimate goal of every CEO is to maximize on shareholders returns whilst fostering efficiency and business growth. It’s a tall order that requires a mix of business acumen, good leadership, subject matter expertise and smart thinking. Whilst cracking the marketing, financials or customer service work streams can be quite straightforward, cracking the IT work stream has proved to be a daunting task for most CEOs around the globe. Haunted by years of technology under spend, weak IT resourcing and short term visioning, most CEOs are finding themselves yearning, but unable to fully maximize on IT and the associated benefits. Listening to most CEOs, IT and Human Resource units come out strongly as their weakest links and ironically without which they can’t effectively compete in the market.

What irks IT and what can CEOs do to leverage on this powerful business enabler? It’s a question being asked daily by most CEOs, often resorting to spending millions of shillings on blue chip, top notch consultancy firms with rates ranging from daily rates of $2000 a day or more. After pumping millions of dollars, organizations are finding themselves in the same spot of feeling that IT is not working for them and something needs to be done. Depending on a CEO’s appetite for change, there’s a myriad of avenues that can be pursued towards lifting IT as competitive edge creator and enabler as explained below:

  1. Strategy alignment – before asking the Board to spend another couple of million shillings on a new rock star IT initiative, the CEO needs to liase with the CIO in a bid to  ensure an IT Strategy exists and is well aligned with the wider business strategy. Without this, IT investments end up being patched investments that end up as run away projects without any business value. If your organization doesn’t have an IT Strategy, then you are in for a rude shock with regard to your IT investments
  2. IT Leadership – a CEO needs strong IT leadership in a bid to get guided and informed on what needs to be done and by when. If your IT Leadership is stuck and obsessed with the technical agenda only, then you need to start shopping for Leadership that can understand your needs and be able to converse the business language. Besides having good IT Leadership, It’s also imperative to have IT representation in the Executive and Management Committees
  3. IT Governance – without a Governance structure that defines and articulates how the IT unit is governed and managed, a CEO will find himself, with IT Projects running late, delayed project approvals and even an IT team that seems stuck in a vicious cycle of non-performance. A solid and robust IT Governance structure complements the process of ensuring that the gap between IT and Business is bridged and an open communication channel exists between IT and Business
  4. Board representation – it’s imperative for a CEO to recommend and influence the process of having one or two Board members who are tech savvy and can articulate the IT agenda. Without this, the Board’s appetite to spend on IT will always be low due to a lack of understanding on why they really to spend on technology
  5. Project Management – a CEO who understands and appreciates the value of investing in the Project Management discipline will go a long way towards having less headaches as far as his IT unit is concerned. Research has shown that if an IT unit’s Strategy and Execution agenda is in place, an organization will yield more value from IT investments. The Execution agenda rides on a robust and world class Project Management structure that will ensure IT Projects are managed on time and in full.

 

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