The first 90 days of a CIO – The second month

In the previous post on this topic we discussed the first 15 and 30 days of a new CIO’s life. In this post we will look at the first 45 and 60 days (the second month)

The third thing to do (in the first 45 days) is to understand the systems, applications, infrastructure, communication systems, support requirements etc. Remember that these are your “wares”. These are what you are selling to your users. Your team will be an important input point here. You will also need to talk to your vendors and contractors. You will need to talk to the IT officers of the different countries. Laws, infrastructure availability, support arrangements – all these will be different in these countries. There may a lot of wasted services and capacities  in this area.  It is in this area that you will find that you can make the most changes and improvements to increase efficiency and reduce costs.

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It is also important that you look at data security and information security needs of the organisation and ensure that these have been implemented properly. If not you will need to plan to address these. Another key area is business continuity.

“Green IT” is an area that you will need to discuss with your manager and key stakeholders. This may be an area that the board of the organisation has been wanting the organisation to implement but the previous dispensation has been unable to do so.

If you are the CIO of a non-profit sector organisation, you will find that you are under a lot of pressure from some of the stakeholders to implement “open source systems.” Remember to make no commitments on this till you have studied the total picture. While you may be able to implement open source systems in the head office with some effort, it may be a different story in the far-flung countries where support for open source systems may not be available.

You will also need to look at the system development, maintenance and support processes and ensure that these are up to standard and is being followed properly. Look at the project management and program management processes. In some organisations, you may find that the IT group supplies project management  processes for the other departments also. This then becomes another “ware” for you and you need to clearly understand the mechanics of this interaction.

If there are technologies or systems in the new organisation that you are not familiar with, you should spend time trying to familiarise yourself with these technologies.

The fourth thing to do (in the first 60 days) is to understand the processes of the organisation. This is a very critical part of your job. This is one of the areas that is normally overlooked by new managers. First understand what your authority is. What is your approval limit? I have known new managers approving purchases that are more than 10 times their approval limit! Make sure that you know what your budgets are and what lines they are split into. Some organisations are keen to keep a close watch of spending against different lines while some are OK if you keep to your overall budget and you use great leeway on how you spend it. Make sure that you understand the planning and budgeting processes and cycles of the organisation.

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Another key thing is to understand the governance processes. How are projects initiated, approved and reviewed? How are purchases approved. Is there an approved vendor list?

What is the governance structure for monitoring the IT strategy and plans? Is there an IT governance board? And what are their processes? You may find the CIO and the IT group have a set of metrics and / or a scorecard to measure up to. You will need to clearly understand this so that you can prepare to feed into this process properly.

You will also need to understand the SLAs that your department has agreed to with the various user groups. Are these SLAs realistic? Do you need to make any changes? Understand clearly how the IT department engages with the user groups.

Another key thing to understand is the performance planning and evaluation systems of the organisation. You will need to use this process soon to ensure that you set the plans of your team.

In the next post we will look at the third month of a CIO’s new job.

What do you think?

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