One of the funny things that happens to me as an ITIL trainer of Fortune 500 companies includes those occasional “A-Ha” moments. You know, when the light bulb goes on in someone’s head, and they get it! I wanted to share a few of those moments:
- One thing I can tell you is I am a firm believer that ITIL is here and it is here to stay! I was at a Training event in Chicago this week were I was chatting with several Information technology recruiters who had taken or were inquiring about ITIL foundations training. I thought it strange they would want to take this course until I heard the rational. In today’s IT world technical acumen is needed but not enough, hiring managers are looking for smart people who can understand and implement process. The recruiters logic was very sound in that they what to make sure they were getting the right people to their clients the first time. They All agreed that they have seen a major influx of these types of skill sets being sought after in today’s job market. In this case the light bulb went on for me.
- One of the comments I often hear in classes is, “This ITIL stuff seems great, but let’s be honest is process Optimization about job elimination?” “I love to counter this statement with,when is the last time you worked a 40 hour work week?” I think we are all aware that with staffing cuts and reductions in workforce that amount of work has gone up. Business demands and target service levels (SLA’s) have not taken into account we have less resource and may have less capability for value delivery. ITIL is about using (and understanding) what you have to eliminate waste and meet business objectives without killing yourself. The formation of synergy and communication of IT and business people is critical to this. In fact ITIL with the many new of enhanced process will often require more resources to accomplish goals.
- It is no secret that every company can have better asset management, I love to show a article about how many laptops the IRS has lost in the last three years, “don’t ask unless you want your stomach to churn!”The best reaction I ever got to the article was when a CIO in class blurted out, “at least they know how many they have lost” Talk about hearing a pin drop, the VP’s and Dir in the room (his staff) didn’t know if they should laugh or cry? Needless to say for the first time in my life I was at a complete loss for words, come on people what do you say after that?
- One of the major tenets of Training Delivery understands the cultural and social mores of your audience. Being from Chicago I used an analogy once that CSI- ITIL continual Service Improvement can act as kind of a (Internal affairs-Like as in the case of the police department.) My very Chicago centric view of Internal Affairs being an Assisting/guiding/advocating body to aid the organization. Well it seems Internal Affairs in New York City is not viewed that way! Two People who held the CSI role in the organization said to me at the break, “you basically told people, not to trust us, not to talk to us, and that we were out to get them, by using that analogy.” It seems there was a major scandal in the New York city press about How bad the internal police corruption and become, and you guessed it Internal affairs was given a, “Hunt-um down and hang-um mandate” the month before my training. I was back peddling at about 60 MPH after the break.
One thing I love about ITIL is that it is a framework, I often say, “treat it like a salad bar, take what you want, (or should be having) and leave the rest.” All major companies have elements of Process Optimization working. Let’s face it if they did not they would not be around in today’s market place. Everyone always gets caught up on some of the ITIL Verbiage,
I like to joke that the British, (ITIL’s founders) call it the Kings English. The point is, at the end of the day terms that are relevant to your company and your way of doing business are fine, as long as they are agreed upon, documented, and followed. One attendee once quipped, “Could we call major outages, Pink fuzzy bunnies, to sound more pleasing?” “I replied sure, but you can be the one on the Hierarchical escalation to the CIO at 2am, saying we have a Pink fuzzy bunny going on in which 50% of our functionality is down.”
Contact us at Linium - we can show you how the ITIL framework can make a very big difference!
What synergy is required between the roles of a CIO and a CFO and how do you improve that relationship?
Many times, there are no clear boundaries between the job duties of two executives in a company. Management duties often overlap. This always happens and it can’t be avoided. Although overlapping roles can result in friction and turf disputes, this is not inevitable. It’s senior management's job to ensure that overlapping roles do not result in conflict but instead synergy. This is one of the critical roles that Linium plays.
The responsibilities of the chief financial officer (CFO) and the chief information officer (CIO) are two mission critical jobs that will often overlap. Senior management needs to recognize that these two officers have a relationship, a relationship that should be based on mutual trust and dedication to the mission of the company. When you have a little bit of this magic, great things can happen for your company.
So, what is synergy? It happens when two or more individuals join efforts so that the outcome is better than the combined sum of individual actions. Simply stated, synergy requires cooperation and even a type of partnering. To the extent that senior management can forge bonds between the CFO and the CIO is the extent to which a company will prosper. These two individuals should have a natural connection. In some of the best and most respected companies, the CFO and CIO are close friends, at work and outside work. This can only help.
The Role of the CFO
The chief financial officer typically reports directly to the chief executive officer. The CFO’s job is to supervise all of the financial details of a company, to assess risks, to make reports to the CEO, and generally to make sure that a company’s finances are in good order. Is there enough money to pay the bills, grow the company and invest? That’s the bottom line, but it can be a huge task. If a company has trouble with its financial picture, the company will be in trouble, no matter how well the other operations perform. Poor financial management can sink a company. The CFO has to be a master of financial management!
The Role of the CIO
In terms of corporate history, the chief information officer is a relatively new kid on the block. The position of CIO emerged from the sudden burst of computer technology in the past few decades. The CIO oversees all of a company’s information technology and computer systems. The job is much more than just a technical one that requires the talents of an engineer. It is now a classic management role. The CIO is the new rock star at most growing companies. They get respect across the board because they are on the cutting edge of innovation, which has become a super important quality. Information management, including the computer infrastructure, impacts every part of a company’s mission, especially finance. Finance is closely interwoven with a company's information technology.
At Linium our role is: Identify problems; implement solutions; and innovate your company. Your job as a senior manager is to scale new heights for your company; Linium’s job is to get you there.
Linium recognizes that one of its crucial roles is to nurture a synergy between the CFO team and the CIO team. We don’t see conflict; we see opportunities for partnering. It’s all about synergy.
Does your company have a CIO?
Recently, corporations have seen an explosion of "C-Level" job titles instead of the Vice President positions that were more common in the 1980s and 1990s. The Chief Information Officer (CIO) displaces a VP-level position that would have previously been titled "Vice President of Operations" or an equivalent. These executives are often responsible for the CEO's operational and information roles, freeing up CEO time for innovation and business development. The proliferation of c-level jobs and the broadening of the CEO's responsibilities has made deputies like the CIO indispensable to major corporations. If you have a CIO in place at your company, clearly, you are ahead of the curve and are probably a company that places a lot of importance on information technology. And, its important to note that IT has only increased in importance over the past decade, so this justifies the “Chief” title.
One main role of the CIO is analyzing business processes, especially those that can be automated through use of technology. Even the smallest process -- for instance, putting buttons on a shirt in a garment factory or compiling weekly reports for clients at a marketing firm -- can have large impacts on cost and efficiency when repeated frequently over time. John D. Rockefeller and Henry Ford realized this over a century ago with their assembly lines: Rockefeller ordered his workers to use 32 welds on each oil drum instead of 33 because each saved weld -- repeated millions of times -- saved large amounts of money and time, despite being insignificant at the individual level. It’s the small things that count. CIO’s, along with the company Controller, look at every possible cost – every dime spent – and find ways to reduce and/or improve the efficiency.
What else do they do? CIOs may perform analysis of routine procedures or company-wide policies. One expanding area of cost reduction is energy efficiency: for example, turning down the temperature in a skyscraper by only one degree could save hundreds of thousands in yearly heating costs. Someone needs to order these studies, oversee their completion, and present the results to the CEO or board of directors. So, it falls to the CIO. While the CEO has too many responsibilities to worry about the temperature of an office building, the CIO can devote time to these issues and convey they importance to boosting the bottom line. If technology can help a company improve its bottom line, the CIO is responsible for exploring it. Think about the IT initiatives in your own company; the CIO (or VP of IT) handles lots of these types of issues.
So, who do we admire when it comes to handling new business challenges in innovative ways? Amazon. They have been leading the way in business process innovation for many years. Operating on razor-thin margins of 1% or less, reducing costs has become vital to Amazon's survival as the internet's largest retailer. Their CIO recently lead the acquisition of a robotics company that will produce automatic inventory and shipping equipment, reducing Amazon's long-term labor costs and boosting their bottom line.
It is through the CIO's role as "improver" that corporations can continually decrease costs and improve efficiency. A good CIO will promote innovation with improved processes and a continual eye towards the company's bottom line; a bad CIO can lead to stagnation and inflating business costs, even with a competent and hard-charging CEO. While major corporations can get along with a lackluster Chief Financial Officer, having a top-notch CIO is crucial to business success in the 21st century.
How can your company use the role of CIO to do the same?