Does Your CIO/IT Leader Understand Your Corporate Strategic Plan?

I love IT people. They are talented individuals who have a gift to understand technology and “how things work” behind the scenes that not many people have. And we also know that their number one gift is usually not communications nor being “touchy/feely” type people. From experience, being married to an IT person, having been an IT Director for a nonprofit and a bank, plus having managed many IT personnel through the years, I have learned how to communicate with them and also how to engage them in the strategic discussions of the organization.

“IT people" as we call them, are very smart people but so are the rest of us. In many corporations, there is a noticeable gap in communication between the top executives and the CIO. This manifests itself in the gap between the corporate strategic plan and the technology strategic plan—if there is one in place. For example, if your organization wants to grow 20% in gross revenues YOY or a bank wants to grow 15-20% in assets in the next fiscal year, do you have the technological infrastructure to support that growth? How soon do you start planning for the continuous growth you are projecting in your strategic plan? What type of infrastructure (both physical and logical) do you need? Do you have the appropriate security controls in place to handle new clients and to offer brand new products or services? Do you have an enterprise risk management risk assessment process in place that incorporates how the new technology will or could impact the organization?

These and many other important questions need to be part of your risk assessment and strategic planning process in order to coordinate and have an integrated IT infrastructure to support your organization. To bridge the gap, therefore, IT professionals need to learn corporate talk, company politics, become very familiar with the company’s strategic plan/goals. At the same time, corporate executives need to learn about technology—not only what systems they need to run their companies but also what type of technology would benefit their company most in order to ensure continued success.

Communication is the crucial component for a successful marriage between IT and the company’s strategic plan. Including the IT Director/CIO (or whatever title you choose for your company’s IT leader), is key to successful communication. Once the IT leader understands the needs of the company, where the company is going, and feels like a valuable team member, he or she will come up with the right technology solutions to support the company. Your IT strategies will then align with the company’s strategies

The IT infrastructure of a company is the foundation of the organization and all the pipes/framework have to be in place correctly—and from the start—just as you build your own home. I used to tell my team, “Our pipes can be full of customers but if our pipes are broken, we’re all going home!” Meaning, the sales staff and processes are just as important as the organization’s infrastructure. We’re all in this together and are part of one team, one company!

The IT Security Program includes having a strong IT Strategic Plan, which in turn should be integrated with your overall company’s Strategic Plan. At Malzahn Strategic (www.malzahnstrategic.com) we work with banks that want to increase their profitability by improving their operational efficiencies. We focus on Strategic Planning, Enterprise Risk Management and Talent Management.