Top six time-wasting practices CIOs should avoid

Stop being budget priority police

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 maximise 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 minimised when business units use technology, especially of 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 organisations.

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 organisation 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 rationalisation of IT governance. This means using enterprise architecture and related mechanisms to ensure coherence," he said.

Mahoney said CIOs shouldn't waste time apologising 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."

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