Brief: How can CIOs
improve their presentations to senior management?
Rather than think of executive meetings as forums merely to
advocate technology, CIOs should use them as venues to present new ways that IT can
contribute to the business strategy....CIO Magazine, April 1997
This is the second installment in a continuing
series on CIO relations with senior management. In this installment, we will discuss the
presentations CIOs give when proposing the technology budget for the upcoming budget
cycle. Although these presentations are a predictable occurrence (e.g., once a year), many
CIOs are ill-prepared to deal with them.
In the first installment, "What can CIOs do to improve communications with senior
management?", we discussed what the CIO should do to demonstrate ITs
alignment with strategic goals and business objectives. Our focus here is: how can the CIO
Key Information. Remember, senior management
often doesnt care a whole lot about the technology. What they want and need to
know is what the technology will enable the organization to accomplish. They want it in
clear, succinct, and tangible business terms.
Five ways the CIO can improve presentations to
- State the alignment with strategies and
Dont assume that
every senior manager will instantly, or accurately, relate IT proposals with particular
organizational strategies and objectives. Explicitly state the particulars for major
projects or groups of projects and activities. Sometimes, IT projects / activities may not
be aligned, but may still be important - tell them why and how.
- Show the focus on the organizations
The IT organization,
in cooperation with others, has (presumably) identified a portfolio of IT projects /
activities that address one or more top priorities of the organization - state the
priority of each IT project / activity. Leave no doubt that every proposed expenditure is
related to the most important priorities of the organization. Additionally, tell
them if there are priorities that are not being addressed and why (e.g., a top priority
may not require an IT solution).
- Specify the anticipated benefits
State the benefit in clear, quantified business terms, i.e.,
tell them what the outcome of proposed IT project /
activity will yield in terms of business efficiency, effectiveness, client satisfaction,
increased revenues, etc.
- State the risks
Senior management knows that IT projects, and some
activities, can be risky investments. They just dont know which are the most
risky. Let them know that risk has been evaluated, what the IT organizations
assessment is, and how it will be mitigated (e.g., a project that is advocated by an
influential business unit may be so loosely defined that delivery of its proposed benefits
on time, within budget, cannot be assured without further business analysis.
Consequently, this might be designated as "high risk" until a convincing case is
developed and evaluated).
- Show that the IT organization means business
Business periodicals are replete with articles discussing
how risky IT investments are ("junk bond" grade), and IT managements lack
of business understanding. Demonstrate that the IT organization is as professional in its
management practices as it is in the technology. Provide, at least, an overall project
management plan and the IT organizations non-technical performance management approach.
Reality. Few IT organizations have developed
the management capacity to produce the foregoing information for the broad spectrum of IT
projects / activities that they must deliver. Organizations that do not have the capacity
to completely develop and deliver the necessary information should focus their efforts on
providing the information for the largest and highest priority projects. With time and
experience (along with the right skills and business processes) this capability can be
extended to the entire portfolio of IT investment options.
This is the second installment in our series on
CIO/senior management relations. Look for our next installment, "How to get the right
information". Coming soon!
If you are a CIO/CFO/CEO, we want to hear from you.
Send us your comments and questions.