Strategy

  • 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:

  • A part-time CIO for SMBs offers many advantagesBy Rocky Vienna
    Principal

    A witch’s brew of globalization, disruptive technology, and regulatory compliance has created a new set of challenges for business executives. Never before has Information Technology – and the knowledge and experience of a seasoned CIO – been so integral to a company’s success and outright survival.

    Whether yours is an emerging company, a small company or a mid-size company, having a part-time or fractional CIO serve on your Executive Management Team is the most effective way to get the benefits of having an experienced CIO without taking on the expense of having a CIO on staff full time.

    Why a part-time CIO will complete your team

    It’s common for small and mid-size businesses to have an infrastructure-centric IT manager who doesn’t yet have the business acumen of a seasoned CIO. This IT manager is vital for day-to-day IT management, but just isn’t capable of guiding the executive management team through strategic IT-related issues and opportunities. In addition, this junior team member does not have the experience to ensure that you have the proper business processes and related business systems in place to support growth.

  • Improving the chances of IT project successBy Ken Norland
    Associate

    The statistics are disheartening. A 2013 McKinsey survey confirmed what’s been an “open secret” for years: 71% of large IT projects have cost overruns, and on average these projects deliver 56% less value than predicted.

    Why? What causes these problems, and what can you do to improve the chances of IT project success?

  • A 4 Step Approach to BCPBy Stephen McGrady
    Principal

    As I discussed in my article on the difference between Business Continuity Planning (BCP) and Disaster Recovery (DR) planning, Business Continuity Planning is about the operations side of disaster preparedness. How will you keep the business running after disaster strikes?

    When helping organizations address their Business Continuity Planning needs, CIO Professional Services uses a four-step approach: conduct a Business Impact Assessment, get Governance mechanisms defined and approved, prepare the team to handle Crisis Management, and create the Emergency Operating Plans (EOPs) for highly-impacted departments. Here’s an overview of how this works…

  • The scope and pace of change in Information Technology organizations can be overwhelming. Organizations that are doing things in the “same old way” are, by definition, rapidly becoming out-of-date and risk being ineffective

  • Several alternatives exist as to the method and location for performing business processes. Subject to certain constraints, these processes may be located anywhere in the world, and can be performed internally by the company or by other organizations...

  • IT Effectiveness AssessmentBy Jeff Richards
    Managing Partner

    Your company is growing. You know your organization needs to move fast, but in focusing on the business you may have underinvested in IT. Now IT has become such a constraint that you’re not sure your systems can keep up with the growth. On top of that, you’re concerned that IT and the lines of business may not even be on the same page.

    Or perhaps the CIO thinks that IT is doing fine, but the rest of the management team doesn’t understand what they’re getting for their IT investment. There’s even a concern that IT is too expensive. To make matters worse, you’re in a situation where the CEO can’t “speak IT,” and the CIO can’t “speak business”...and a complete disconnect has ensued.

    To get on track you need to quickly get your bearings and determine if you’re doing the right things, in the right order, and doing them well. An excellent way to do so is through an IT Effectiveness Assessment.

  • Our Managing Partner, Jeff Richards, is quoted in this article in the November 7 issue of ComputerWorld.

    The latest in IT services? CIO hired guns

    Damon Neth hasn't had a full-time, salaried position with a company in nearly 20 years. And he wouldn't have it any other way.

    That's because Neth has built a lucrative career as an interim CIO. Highly qualified and rich in experience, he and other IT guns-for-hire possess a unique blend of IT expertise, business smarts and boardroom savvy. Rather than commit to cubicle life, interim CIOs transition from one client to the next with contracts typically spanning three months to two years, and annual compensation of six figures.

    Read more on COMPUTERWORLD...

    Get the PDF version...

  • Cloud computing and business strategy – why you’re going to have to make the moveBy Zeesham Kazmi
    Associate

    Chances are not a single day passes where you don't hear of some new advancement in the cloud. Cloud is a topic of strategy discussions in board meetings, and it impacts your family's connectivity at home. Unfortunately, there's still a huge FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt) factor about cloud computing. In fact, a great deal of immobilizing FUD is portrayed regarding the security, legal and risk functions of the cloud; much of which is based on myths. Many CIOs also have questions about the cloud's costs and potential savings (including the human resources savings factor), as well as how moving to the cloud can impact the transformation of their organization.

  • Why data center consolidation is a good ideaBy Mark Tonnesen
    Associate

    Over the years, the norm within most IT organizations has been to want to own, manage and control things. The objective has been to have some control over the outcome and, ultimately, the success. As a result, many CIOs are still hosting their own data centers. While this approach probably made a lot of sense in the past, times have changed. The reality is, it's no longer a competitive advantage to own and run your own data center.

    To stay competitive, your priority needs to be the delivery of the services that ride on top of your data center infrastructure. That's why consolidating your data centers, virtualizing as much as possible, and partnering with a reputable hosting provider should be part of your strategic IT planning process.

  • Negotiating an Outsourcing ContractBy Jeff Richards
    Managing Partner

    In our past few blogs we’ve been talking about the outsourcing lifecycle and its five phases. We started with an introduction to the outsourcing lifecycle, and then delved into the first two phases: assessing outsourcing opportunitiesand selecting an outsourcing service provider. This brings us to Phase III: contract development and service provider negotiations.

    This is the phase in which you develop the framework for your relationship with your new business partner. Yes – your outsourcing service provider is essentially a business partner! Here’s what you need to know…

  • An important part of the project risk management puzzleBy Ken Norland
    Associate

    Many project managers have a tendency to do the easy pieces first and save the hardest parts for the end. This is just basic human nature. However, project risk management for increasing the chances of IT project success means planning for the earliest possible problem detection. If your project has complexities (i.e. “hard parts”) that you can identify early, attacking them first will improve predictability and give you time to recover when the inevitable problems occur.

    Turn “3 Miracle” Projects into “Doable” Projects

    Years ago I worked at an organization where we would look at a project and say “it will take X number of miracles for us to pull this off in the time allotted.” Those “miracles” referred to the events where we got to a point and said “a miracle is needed here.” And I learned that tackling those gaps in understanding can eliminate most of the need for miracles. Which, of course, makes for good project management.

  • An important way to help your IT project succeedBy Ken Norland
    Associate

    I’ve been writing about some ways that you can help your IT project succeed. In my last two articles I discussed picking the right project manager and then helping your project manager succeed by ensuring that she is actually allowed to manage. Today I’d like to talk about why you shouldn’t wait until the project is “done” before you get it into the end users’ hands.

    IT Project Success Depends upon Meeting End Users’ Needs

    If your project is aimed at producing something for end users to use, then ensuring that what you produce is what these people actually need and want is vital to the project’s success. We’ve all seen situations, though, where the delivered project perfectly matches the agreed-upon specs but is not accepted by the end users. There are a few common reasons why this happens:

    • End users’ needs evolve over time – If the specs were written six months ago, they probably do not fit the end users’ current understanding of what they need the project to do.
    • End users’ understanding changes as the project materializes – There’s a big difference between reviewing static specs or screen mock-ups and interacting with something live. Even if their needs have not changed at all, it’s common for end users to see what the project team has produced and say “Gee, that’s not what I meant.”
    • End users change – Sometimes by the time a project is delivered, the people who need it have changed. The new people may want it to work a little differently than what the previous people had envisioned.
  • Evaluating IT delivery modelsBy Stephen McGrady
    Associate

    A big question facing many CIOs today has to do with the changing nature of enterprise IT organizations. What is the best delivery model for the applications on which their businesses depend? Should they keep everything in-house? Should they keep the servers and applications on-premises but outsource all of the development and/or management? Or would it be better to switch to a Software as a Service (SaaS) model, and let others handle it all?

    While I cannot give you a one-size-fits-all answer, I can provide a framework for the evaluation process. Here are some of the most important questions you need to ask:

  • Cybersecurity PlanBy Scott S. Smith
    Security Practice Lead

    Given the dramatically negative impact that a cybersecurity failure can have on your business, implementing a cybersecurity plan is mission critical. In my last article I talked about some of the business-driven needs that might drive your cybersecurity plan. Today I will address some of the steps you need to take to get a cybersecurity plan in place.

  • 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.

  • 7 Key Cybersecurity TacticsBy Scott S. Smith
    Security Practice Lead

    Given the fact that many organizations experience near-continuous cyberattack attempts, if you have not already done so, getting a robust cybersecurity plan in place is a must. This plan needs to be tailored to address your organization’s business requirements, culture and risk tolerance around cybersecurity. It also will need to ensure compliance with applicable regulations and laws, and include plans for how to respond if, in spite of your best efforts, a security breach takes place. You don’t want to be in Equifax’s situation, where a hacker’s ability to exploit what was most likely a known weakness has now put millions of consumers’ identity and financial security at risk. The government, your customers and the general public are all losing their tolerance for disasters that happen when known problems are ignored.

  • Implementing Your Outsourcing Serving ContractBy Jeff Richards
    Managing Partner

    The decision to outsource a business process or an IT function is a significant one, and to ensure you achieve the desired outcomes care must be taken at each stage of the outsourcing lifecycle. In previous posts we introduced the outsourcing lifecycle and talked about each of the first three phases of this cycle: assessing outsourcing opportunities, selecting an outsourcing service provider and developing and negotiating an outsourcing contract.

    In this final post in the 5-part series we will cover phases IV and V of the outsourcing lifecycle. In these phases the contract is implemented, and the relationship and Service Level Agreements (SLAs) are managed on an on-going basis.

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.

Copyright 2018. CIO Professional Services, LLC. All Rights Reserved.