Monday, March 9, 2009

Alignment in IT Management

Glenn Whitfield over at his excellent blog IT Business Alignment ask an interesting question CIO, 
No Leader Wanted. While I agree with a lot of what Glenn says, here is asking about alignment and 
alignment is a management issue. Is everybody going in the same direction? Leaders, by definition, do not go in the same direction as others.

My point isn’t to get into an argument about semantics, but one of direction. Company ‘leaders’ need a little management. When there are good times and everyone is flush with cash, it is easier to let people go in their own direction and not worry about the trade offs. We have had almost 25 years where that has been true and discussions were about possibilities that could recover any cost. That time is gone.

Now, discussions will be about trade offs. How much is something going to cost, where is the money going to come from and what has to be cut to pay for the project we go forward with. Many projects (over 60%) need to be cut. Considerations will revolve around what are the core initiatives that will move the business forward as a successful, ongoing enterprise. Those are the ones that will be funded. That will drive alignment.

Cutting 60% of the projects means people will not be spread so thin and the projects will actually succeed. Successful people will be judged on their ability to make projects succeed, not the possibilities they promise. Also, it means that many of the people with their own agendas will be corralled. Finances will dictate that there will be much more alignment than there is today.

Understanding what’s of core importance to the business and how to deliver it efficiently and effectively will be the calling card of the successful CIO. The successful executive CIO will talk about ROI and NPV in analyzing which project go forward aligned with the business.  ROI and how project will be paid for and pay for itself are what need to be discussed. That is what leads to alignment. 

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