Business strategy takes a backseat to meetings in the CIO workday

If CIOs could squeeze more time into their workweeks, they'd like to spend it formulating business strategies. Find out what else they told us in our survey about how CIOs spend their work time.

If you’re wondering where your time goes, check your calendar and tally up all those meetings each month. We recently queried CIO TechRepublic members about how they spend their workdays and it turns out that a good portion spends half that time in meetings.

It seems the day-to-day tasks of managing projects, people, and technology are getting in the way of what CIOs would rather be doing—focusing their energy on business strategy.

Who is meeting with whom
Of the 151 survey respondents, 15 percent meet daily with both the CEO and CFO or designated IT financial director, as shown in Figure A. Yet, curiously, 16 percent never meet with the CEO, and 17 percent have yet to meet with the CFO.

Figure A
How often do you meet with your CEO and CFO?

CIOs obviously have lots of people to meet with—from the COO to the CSO to the VP of every division. Nearly one third of respondents, 32 percent, said they spend at least six, and sometimes more than 12, hours weekly in meetings with top-level officers other than the CEO and CFO. The largest percentage of respondents said they spend less than two hours meeting with those executives (see Figure B).

Beyond the top tier, 31 percent of the respondents reported spending six to more than 12 hours meeting with staff. The largest percentage of respondents said they spend between four and five hours meeting with staff members in a typical week, as shown in Figure C.

Figure B

Figure C

The vendors make up one group not getting through the CIO’s doors very often. Only 18 percent of those surveyed report that they spend more than six hours in meetings with vendors over the course of a typical week. Nearly half said they spend less than two hours with vendors. Figure D compares the amount of time CIOs spend in meetings with executives, staff, and vendors.

Figure D

Where does the time go?
Why is it necessary for CIOs to spend so much time in meetings? According to the survey, the answer is management responsibilities. CIOs spend lots of time on administration and much less on matters like IT research and development and security, as illustrated in Figure E. The chart compares the amounts of time CIOs reported spending on Managing, R&D, Business Strategy, Security, and Other. It also shows issues that have demanded the greatest increase in time over the last 12 months and topics to which respondents would like to dedicate more time.

Thirty-seven percent would like to devote more time to developing business strategies, and 22 percent seek more time to devote to managing technology. One surprise is that respondents indicated they’re spending zero time on security.

Figure E

Typical workweek
Fifteen percent of respondents reported putting in 60-plus hours per week, and more than half work between 45 and 54 hours. Discounting meetings with CEOs and CFOS, the respondents reported spending a rough average of 10 hours—or 20 percent of their time—in meetings with other executives, staff, and vendors.

Does that sound right to you?
Do you think you spend 20 percent of your time in meetings outside of those with your CEO or CFO? Have you come up with ways to shorten your time in meetings, or to increase the productivity of your meetings? Send us an e-mail or discuss your strategies below.


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