Anna Frazzetto's Blog

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Ways IT Can Contribute to Business Efficiency and Growth

Tips from New Jersey CIOs

On June 29, Harvey Nash hosted its 2010 CIO Survey U.S. Launch Event in Princeton, New Jersey. While the Harvey Nash CIO Survey is now more than a decade old, this is the first year we have been able to simultaneously analyze both a global perspective (2,500 IT leaders from around the world completed the survey) and a local market perspective (more than 75 New Jersey-based CIOs completed the survey). It's not every day that you have the chance to explore global IT issues while hearing firsthand how they are currently affecting IT organizations — in this case IT organizations in New Jersey.

We were grateful to have the insights of three thoughtful IT executive panelists who helped articulate the challenges today's CIOs are up against:

  • Bill Leo, former CIO for Oliver Wyman, a subsidiary of Marsh McLennan
  • Jon Harding, CIO from Conair
  • John Repko, Corporate SVP and CIO at Covance

The event served as a reminder that businesses, and therefore IT organizations, are still in a cautious, post-recession cost-cutting mode. Only 15% of CIOs in New Jersey saw budget increases the year prior compared to 27% of CIOs nationally. And despite the fact that one attendee reported a 24% budget increase over the year prior, attendees were united in their mission — increase efficiency while helping the business grow and succeed through IT.

Advice from the Frontlines
Attendees and panelists at the event shared many of the best practices they are employing as they strive to foster business success and IT innovation in these still uncertain times. I am happy to pass these CIO-to-CIO tips along and expand the learning to our national and global network of IT leaders and innovators.

Be Creative in Your Budget Allocation — If your budget is limited, like so many New Jersey budgets are, get creative in how you put the funds you do have to work. Strategic outsourcing and offshoring was one option shared by many New Jersey IT leaders. So was partnering with internal business groups (Finance, Marketing, Procurement, etc.) to join budgets and expand the scope of solutions.

Focus on Business Needs — Many New Jersey IT leaders emphasized the extreme importance of contributing to business goals, growth and success. It is critical for IT to go out into the business to find out where technology can fuel competitive advantage and business growth. Rather than waiting for the business to come to IT with needs, New Jersey IT leaders are focused on being proactive partners who are heavily engaged in learning and supporting critical business needs.

Use Gap Analysis Before Outsourcing — One piece of advice focused on outsourcing was to make sure the business conducts a strategic gap analysis before engaging an outsourcing provider. If the business and IT organization do not have a clear grasp of what the internal performance level is for a task or process, it will be very hard to measure the performance of an outsourcing provider. Good gap analysis allows a business to establish informed, realistic SLAs and metrics.

Secure Senior Sponsorship — In times where budgets are tight and every penny counts, senior-level sponsorship for IT projects (be they outsourcing initiatives or any sort of IT project) is more important than ever. By bringing business and executive leaders into project planning and winning their backing, CIOs can expect greater companywide support and possibly more budget, should it become necessary down the road.

As these insights demonstrate, the importance of ensuring that IT is delivering business value was a top-of-mind issue for New Jersey IT leaders. For me, it's a valuable reminder of how prioritizing IT projects and teams around business needs is a hallmark of successful IT organizations.

In the months ahead, we will be hosting several CIO events in geographies across the U.S. I look forward to sharing more insights with you from CIO peers around the country and invite you to share your IT leadership advice and questions with me. Also, be sure to check out our CIO Survey microsite for more information about the 2010 CIO Survey and the events we are having around the U.S.:

September 20, 2010 — New York, NY
September 21, 2010 — Denver, CO
September 22, 2010 — Seattle, WA
September 23, 2010 — Silicon Valley, CA