CIO report card: IT must fix basic problems

New research shows that IT continues to struggle with completing basic operational activities to the satisfaction of end-users and business partners. CIOs should examine their departments carefully to see whether house-cleaning and improvements are needed.
Written by Michael Krigsman, Contributor

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An odd, yet interesting, research study from Nintex appeared last week. Titled Definitive Guide to America's Most Broken Processes, the report asked 1,000 full-time employees to answer these questions:

  • What are the top broken corporate processes?
  • Who do employees blame for these broken functions?
  • How do broken processes impact employee performance and morale?
  • How can businesses improve internal functions?

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The report examines four different process domains: IT, onboarding, administrative, and document management/sales.

According to the survey, "All respondents work at companies with more than 500 employees and work on a computer or other mobile device for more than five hours a day."

When it comes to IT, 62 percent of survey respondents said their company has broken processes. The top problem areas of IT are technology troubleshooting, equipment onboarding for new hires, and requesting a new computer or another technology device.

See the chart below for details:

CIO report card

IT has issues with the most basic operational processes.

What the results mean for IT and the CIO

It's amazing that only 62 percent have seen broken processes in IT. It means that 38 percent of respondents think IT performs basic tasks well. Given the workload on typical IT departments, I am surprised this number is so low. Bravo, IT departments of America!

Unfortunately, however, the survey also tells us that most IT departments have trouble with their most basic operational tasks. For example, look at these processes in the chart above: Equipment onboarding for new hires, password resets, requesting a new computer, and de-provisioning former employees are all within the control of IT.

Frankly, it's almost hard to believe that some IT departments have trouble with these essential processes. Can someone please explain why these activities are so hard to get right?

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Unlike IT activities that rely on collaboration with multiple departments, core activities like password resets and preparing computers for new hires fall squarely within the scope of IT alone.

If you are a CIO, the message is simple and clear: Be sure you nail operational excellence before trying to be a strategic partner to the business. In other words, be wary of offering business advice to other departments until you clean up IT, so it performs basic activities fast and with little hassle to partners.

Credibility and trust are the foundation of collaboration and strategic partnership. Operational excellence is the groundwork for developing the trusted advisor and partner role that many CIOs seek.

Therefore, look in the proverbial CIO mirror and figure out whether your IT organization does the basics well. If not, fix the problem today.

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