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  • Why hire a fractional CIOBy Jeff Richards
    Managing Partner

    There comes a point in many company’s growth when it becomes obvious that the investments made in IT haven’t kept pace with the business and this shortfall has now become a constraint. Your technology capabilities just aren’t good enough, but for reasons of either capacity or skill sets, your current in-house IT team is not able to rectify the situation. You realize that your organization could really benefit from the expertise of an experienced CIO (Chief Information Officer) to chart the way forward—but you either do not need or cannot afford to bring someone in on a full-time basis. This is where the fractional CIO comes in.

  • Mentoring IT ProfessionalsBy Steven McIntosh

    As a senior IT executive I've reached the point in my career where I feel it's important to take the time to give back to others that are just coming up the IT ladder. If you're at a similar point in your career, you probably feel the same way, too. So the questions become: How do you mentor IT professionals? What are the most important things to impart when mentoring IT professionals?

    While individual needs will differ, I believe that the following three items should always be on the list:

  • Hybrid approach for multi-site conferencesBy David Haedtler
    Principal

    Last year I was asked to plan and facilitate a two-day conference for over 140 engineers and researchers. Participants included representatives from universities, industry, national laboratories and federal agencies. The goal of this meeting was to brainstorm potential innovations in a particular field, explore these ideas and come to a consensus regarding which ones were worthy of further funding.

    It was an important conference about important work, but there was a catch: the participants would be physically sitting at six different sites from coast to coast. My challenge was to make this multi-site conference work.

  • An often overlooked way to use social media in the wine industryBy Steven McIntosh
    Associate

    Part of my consulting practice involves a lot of work with wineries. I've found that smaller wineries – those that sell less than one million cases per year – are always looking for ways to increase winery direct sales. Many ask me for advice on ways to use social media in the wine industry to gain greater access to customers, increase customer loyalty and increase sales.

  • Cybersecurity On A BudgetBy Christopher Barron
    Associate

    As the CIO you’ve been tasked with ensuring that your organization’s IT systems are more secure. You’ve got a budget (although it’s tight). You’ve got mandates (“Don’t let us get hacked!” “Increase our perimeter strength!” “Make it a ‘Top 3’ initiative for the year!”). But if you’re like many CIOs, what you don’t have is an understanding of the basic premises and precepts of cybersecurity.

    To get appropriate cybersecurity controls in place, where in the world should you start?

  • How to Help Your Project Manager SucceedBy Ken Norland
    Associate

    In my last article I gave some in-depth advice regarding “Picking the Right Project Manager for Your IT Project.” Once you have selected this person, it is your job as CIO to help your project manager succeed. The best way to do that is to ensure that your project manager is allowed to manage.

    What prevents project managers from managing?

    In my experience, the two most common problems that prevent project managers from actually managing are:

    1. Micromanagement from above – The people who oversee the project but are not in the project, start micromanaging the process.

    2. Misunderstanding of the project management role – The road to IT project failure is often paved by project managers who only take the “project reporter” role and not the “manager” role. These people attend or lead meetings, take notes, list issues and report on them to management. But they don’t drive these issues and problems to solutions and project progress – they wait for someone else to do that. This approach is guaranteed to fail in tough projects.

  • Leveraging LEAN to increase business / IT alignmentBy Paul Hoekstra
    Associate

    As an IT executive and consultant I've seen firsthand that many IT organizations are struggling to deliver relevant services to the business. There's a misalignment between what the CIO is trying to do and what his or her counterparts in sales, customer service, finance, human resources, etc. are trying to do. And what I've seen is that this absence of business / IT alignment often stems from the IT group not having the people or approach to understand the business from an operational point of view.

    As a result, I often see situations where, for example, the HR Director goes directly to a cloud provider and simply buys a solution – reducing the IT department's involvement to just doing a security check and integrating the solution for the login. This diminishes the value of IT as an organization, which in turn leads to inefficiencies and ineffectiveness across the entire business.

  • The fast approach to the EAP processBy Stephen McGrady
    Associate

    As I mentioned in a previous article, I’m a big believer in Enterprise Architecture Planning. However, I’m also a realist. I know that in today’s hyper-competitive and very fast-moving business environment, about the only enterprises that are enthusiastic about going through the full nine-month or one-year EAP process are government agencies. Everyone else needs results now.

  • Overcoming technology debtBy Jeff Richards
    Managing Partner

    Life at a Nonprofit

    For the past 2-1/2 years I’ve been the interim CIO at the YMCA of Silicon Valley – my fourth non-profit client since 2009. My experience is limited but I’ve seen a trend emerge.

    Senior executives at non-profits are usually wonderful people who are very passionate about what they do. They’re very good at focusing on their mission and the services they offer to meet this mission. They have a clear understanding of who their constituents are. More often than not they have spent their entire career at their current organization or one that’s similar.

  • The benefits of EAPBy Stephen McGrady
    Associate

    I’m a big believer in Enterprise Architecture Planning, the detailed planning process that looks at how an enterprise will use information to support the business, and provides a blueprint for handling data, applications and technology.

    While the process of creating an EAP can be lengthy – typically six to ninth months – the end results can make a significant difference in the IT organization’s ability to meet business needs. From my standpoint, I think the key benefits include:

  • CIOs need to learn to “speak business”By Jeff Richards
    Managing Partner

    The Path to Becoming a CIO

    If you want to be a CFO there's a fairly prescriptive list of things that you need to do to rise through the corporate ranks. For example, most CFOs start their careers working for one of the major accounting firms. They have CPAs. They understand general accounting, taxation, transactions, how to deal with board members and banks, and so forth.

    But if you want to be a CIO there is nothing that remotely approaches a prescriptive list of what you need to do to get there. There's no special curriculum and no widely-accepted "must have" certification.

  • Change management is necessary for even minor projectsBy David Haedtler
    Principal

    I've seen it happen many times in the IT world. There's a project to implement a supposedly simple software upgrade, such as Microsoft Office, and the IT people only see it as a technical change. Sure, the screen will be a little different on the new version than on the old, but who cares? It's still Office. They'll get used to it.

    Then changes are made, the migration is completed and everything goes to hell in a hand basket. As it turns out, lots of people – including some very important people within the organization – did care about a particular menu or command that no longer exists. And lots of people are moaning and groaning about their decreased productivity because the new system is so confusing and different.

  • Why Businesses Needs CybersecurityBy Scott S. Smith
    Security Practice Lead

    The recent data breach at Equifax is just one of the latest in a long string of high-profile cybersecurity failures. In this particular case, the Social Security numbers and other sensitive information of up to 143 million Americans were exposed. In another case, the NotPetya attack very quickly spread to, then severely hobbled operations in, corporations around the world, including the giant shipping company Maersk.

    These and other recent cybersecurity failures in the news have resulted in intellectual property loss, disclosure of embarrassing communications, loss of business, massive public relations nightmares, and more. And that’s just for the high-profile cases!

CIO Professional Services LLC is a top-rated IT consulting firm, based in the San Francisco Bay Area, specializing in strategic IT consulting and business / IT alignment. Companies come to us seeking assistance with their information technology strategy as well as to source interim CIO / CTO employees or fractional CIO / CTO's. Our IT experts can assist with integrating IT into your business processes - better - up to and including 'project rescue' in areas such as ITSM / ITIL, IT service strategy, and IT outsourcing. Business / IT strategy projects we have worked on include upgrading ERP systems, cybersecurity and IT consulting, IT assessment and organizational change. Cloud computing and business IT remain critical in today's business systems, and beyond that to the migration to the cloud of business IT. Our IT consultants can assist with all aspects of business / information technology alignment. Contact us today for a free phone consultation - we service clients not only in San Francisco or San Jose, but throughout the United States.

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