Recipe for IT success: Do more with less

Guest post via TechRepublic. Even in a rough economy, not all organizations are regarding IT as simply a cost center.
Written by Larry Dignan, Contributor

Guest post via TechRepublic. Even in a rough economy, not all organizations are regarding IT as simply a cost center.  When approached in the right way, CEOs are still willing to add resources to overstretched IT departments, particularly when the goals of that department are tightly linked with the CEO’s priorities.  Benny Sisko provides a positive update from a story he submitted last week. For more posts like this see TechRepublic's IT Leadership blog.


Last week, I wrote about the plight of a fellow CIO; this experienced guy and his staff were drowning while attempting to continue to do more with less.  In his organization, expectations were not undergoing a downward turn to accompany the downward trend his budget and staffing levels were seeing.  At the same time, his CEO had appointed him to oversee the organization’s overall business process improvement efforts.

To quote Hubert J. Farnsworth, “Good news, everyone!”

My friend and fellow CIO met with his CEO early this week to discuss the goings-on in the Information Technology department and to outline his plan for continued success of the department and, by extension, the organization overall.

From what I’ve heard, my friend’s CEO is a pretty reasonable guy and it’s apparent that he listens to his executives when they come to him, particularly if they have a solution outlined already.  The following recommendations were made - and even better, they were approved:

  • Hire an entry level technician to ease some of the “immediate support” burdens that have been plaguing the entire IT department. Because of poor staffing levels at the service desk, the entire IT department - including the network/server admin, the SharePoint developer and the DBA - have been called to people’s desks to correct minor issues. This, my friend outlined, was an extremely poor use of their time. Hiring an additional body to alleviate the support burden keeps these differently-skilled people focused on their tasks. Two of these people are also the ones that are intended to be directly involved in organizational business process improvement, so keeping them focused on their roles helps the CEO to achieve his overall goals.
  • Substantially increase the consulting line in the existing IT budget. No matter how many people are hired into an organization, there is always a skill set necessity that can’t be quickly met. The goal in my friend’s organization is to use a consulting line to kick start initiatives that need to be undertaken, such as new systems implementation. A consultant will be brought in to work with staff to design and implement new systems and the consultant will do knowledge transfer with on-site staff so that they can assume the ongoing operations. In this model, on-site staff members don’t have to spend a ton of time and money getting trained up on service installation; they can focus their efforts on the daily needs instead of one-time needs.

So what did my friend do right in his communications?

  • He tied his request directly to the CEO’s pain points, namely, process improvements.
  • He developed a complete solution that included budgetary figures and business impact - he didn’t just walk in and ask for a body and some money.
  • He identified a structure that just makes sense, really, and explained it well to his CEO, who bought into the idea and approved it.

It wasn’t completely easy going… the company is facing a whole lot of financial challenges, but my CIO buddy was able to directly tie IT’s success to helping the organization get through the rough times.

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