CIOs are often overloaded with operational IT issues, which leaves them little time to work with business stakeholders or address new capabilities in support of digital business initiatives. As a result, more CIOs are setting up an "office of the CIO" (OCIO) for support.
An OCIO should comprise a small team that looks after how IT is managed across an organization. The team, which should report to the CIO, should ensure that IT operations are well run, and should contribute to business growth through IT-enabled business innovation. This will give the CIO more time to focus on enterprise-wide IT leadership.
"Whether you're starting a new OCIO or reinvigorating an existing one, accurate preparation, assessment, planning, execution, measurement and, first and foremost, communication are paramount for success," says Lee Weldon, managing vice president at Gartner.
Choosing the right team leader is vital, as this person needs to have credibility with both business and IT leaders, and be someone the CIO trusts. Each team member should be similarly business-minded, analytical, influential and proactive.
Days 1 to 30: Analyze, analyze, analyze…
In the beginning, the goal is to analyze and understand the issues that the OCIO team needs to address, and to establish a clear set of priorities. The team should ask questions such as the following: "What impact are we having on business outcomes or customer experiences, and what skills are core to our ability to differentiate as a business?”
The team should also assess, for example, IT strategy, IT metrics and IT spending, to obtain as much insight as possible. "The insight provided by this analysis phase will help the team achieve 'quick wins' to show its value, and to help identify the IT organization's long-term priorities," says Weldon.
Days 31 to 100: Focus on priorities, while achieving quick wins
The OCIO team needs to start this phase by ensuring the IT organization is doing the right things, which include creating a strategy to identify priorities and refreshing the strategy process. Second, the OCIO needs to ensure the governance model is "fit for purpose," that the IT organization knows who the decision makers are, and that the right people are engaged in the right decision-making forums.
Next, ensure that the IT organization is doing things right by focusing on managing and measuring its performance. The OCIO should ensure clear links to business outcomes and business value. It also needs to assess whether the IT organization is set up optimally to deliver the desired business outcomes.
Throughout this phase, identify and secure quick wins. "Quick wins not only show how the OCIO can contribute to business outcomes, but also generate support and buy-in," says Weldon. “For example, assuming a stronger role in facilitating governance, taking on a task from the CIO's personal agenda, or preparing a monthly status report that gives the CIO and other IT leaders clear insight into the IT organization's opportunities and problems.”