Wednesday, 17 September 2008

Trust me, I’m a CIO

Gartner HE day at Salford University today - a good day. Always nice to mix with other CIOs and IT Directors and share experiences, issues and best practice. Today's discussions all centred around governance, including demonstrating the value of IT and using benchmarking techniques. The day was in three parts, with a presentation on a topic which then led into a round table discussion.

One of the things we concentrated on was how to interact with the governance structure of your institution, whatever it might be - and there were as many different models as there were Universities represented.

We talked about the importance of happy users, and managing user expectations. Someone suggested that the perfect form of governance is the enlightened dictatorship (I certainly agree with that ). Although even the most enlightened dictator eventually becomes corrupted by profit and power over time....

Complexity is an issue we need to get across - HE is a number of businesses - research, teaching, management, all with different needs, and the different cultures of the different academic disciplines also has to be factored in.

One of the main messages to come out about communicating with the governance structure was the famous KISS model - Keep It Simple, Stupid.

Suggestions included

Establish that IT matters - show how pervasive and critical it is, and how much funding it consumes
Do user satisfaction surveys
Benchmark yourself against other institutions
Use risk assessments – show what happens if services are not there
Need to balance project and service portfolios
Project portfolio needs to be managed strategically. New services have ongoing costs. Need therefore to manage that carefully – may not be costs in IT dept.
Talk about services not systems
Talk about performance.
Talk about business outcomes

Finally, be transparent, because transparency builds trust

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