Transforming a CIO agenda into actual projects can be a challenge, even during stable economic times – in 2021, as economies struggle to recover, this may become even more difficult.
Yet since the global economy is becoming more and more digital by the day, it is more and more crucial for CIOs to step up and lead digital transformation efforts.
In this post, we’ll look at five steps that can help CIOs introduce their ideas to the C-suite and turn those ideas into reality.
How To Make Your CIO Agenda Items A Reality: A 5-Step Guide
The competition for resources, funding, and time is fierce, especially in 2021, when budgets are tight and organizations are undergoing massive change.
Many organizations are still recovering from the events of 2020, and while the road to recovery may be difficult, the good news is that IT investments are a top priority for many companies.
According to a survey by Software AG, for instance, 95% of those surveyed believe technology will help them tackle future challenges and 90% believe that customer expectations will evolve in the coming year.
When developing an agenda, though, CIOs should not make any assumptions – instead, it is best to adopt more responsibility, articulate a clear strategy, and help steer the organization in the right direction.
1. Develop a concrete plan
First and foremost, CIOs should develop a concrete plan of action that is based on business strategy.
This action plan should:
- Have clear goals and a definite direction
- Align closely with the organization’s existing digital strategy and business strategy
- Aim to integrate IT with other business functions
- Increase the organization’s digital maturity
- Move the organization forward
Additionally, since these plans may involve aggressive change, it is also a good idea to understand and incorporate the principles of change management – these focus on areas such as risk management, minimizing employee resistance, and simplifying the change process.
2. Turn that plan into a business case
A plan of action is only the first step.
Next, CIOs must actually make a case for the business value of change, in order to communicate that value to other business leaders. Unless other executives see the value in a plan, after all, they are unlikely to support it.
That business case should focus on areas such as:
- The impact of the proposed activities
- The potential ROI, balanced against the potential risk
- How the plan will benefit other members of the C-suite
This last point is important, since other executives will be the ones implementing the effort, after all.
In fact, it is a good idea to go one step further, by actually partnering up with those executives, as we’ll see next.
3. Establish relationships with other members of the C-suite
Everyone in the C-suite has their own specific interests and their own agenda.
To ensure that they support a new IT strategy’s objectives, it is important to:
- Understand the needs and wants of each executive
- Learn to speak their language
- Establish good working relationships
- Support those executives with their own individual agendas
In short, business is business, regardless of whether it is at the level of the executive or the frontline employee – and businesses are built upon relationships. Building strong relationships, therefore, is just as important as building a strong business plan.
4. Make your case for change
Once the above items have been covered, it is time to actually make the case for change.
- Making a formal, persuasive argument for one’s plan of action
- Showing that one has accounted for the risks, rewards, ROI, business impact, and the impact on each area of the business
- Demonstrating a clear strategy for managing organizational change and the obstacles that come with it, such as resistance from employees
- Staying open to feedback and working with other leaders to adjust the plan if necessary
Finally, the most important point for pushing one’s agenda through the pipeline is actually being willing to lead that change oneself.
5. Be willing to lead that change
A plan is that much more likely to succeed if CIOs willingly adopt the responsibility of leading that change.
Not only does this demonstrate commitment, it also improves the chances of success.
As Tata Consultancy Services, successful digital transformation plans are often those led by CIOs.
While this may be uncomfortable for some, to truly make an impact, CIOs must be willing to embrace new responsibilities – and in the digital era, the CIO’s role is becoming one of a business leader, not just an IT operations manager.
In the digital age, technology-driven changes are fueling transformation in virtually every industry.
Nearly every organization in every sector, therefore, must implement a forward-thinking IT strategy, and CIOs should be the ones to drive that strategy forward.