Leadership

Get drastic: 15 IT best practices to kill

Gartner analyst Ken McGee has a radical assessment of IT and what CIOs need to do about. Read his principles of the "new CIO manifesto."

The traditional IT department has entered a period of massive transformation and CIOs are having to completely rethink the way they lead, strategize, and manage their careers. That was the message from Gartner analyst Ken McGee at arguably the boldest and most honest session at Gartner Symposium 2011.

McGee told the convocation of CIOs that it's time for drastic action and they need to stop doing a lot of the things that are traditional mainstays of IT strategy, and it needs to happen as soon as possible. He said that if you want to use IT to create value in your company as well as develop valuable experience for your career then you need to embrace "creative destruction."

The idea is that you create something new and don't worry about the fact that it will kill something old in the process. That's a natural part of transformation, in this line of thinking. McGee said CIOs should be guided by a "new CIO manifesto" in driving these changes and he gave four principles of this new manifesto, which I've listed below.

McGee then listed 16 IT best practices that IT leaders should eliminate as soon as possible. The list below has 15 items because McGee had No. 4 as a two-parter (business apps + technical infrastructure). I simply left it as a single item.

Photo credit: Jason Hiner | TechRepublic

"New CIO manifesto"

  1. Information is just as important, if not more important than information technology.
  2. More than 50% of annual CIO project spending will be directed toward measurably improving the financial conditions of an enterprise.
  3. More than 50% of all enterprise information and IT spending will directly support revenue generating rather than expense related business processes.
  4. The incentive portion of CIO compensation will be derived from the amount of money created by the efforts of CIOs and their staffs.

IT practices to eliminate

  1. Reject annual mismatch between CEO priorities and IT's most funded projects
  2. Terminate support of projects that will not improve the income statement
  3. Abandon CIO priorities that do not directly support CEO priorities
  4. Stop recommending IT mega projects
  5. Abolish environment of little or no IT spending accountability
  6. Terminate existing applications that do not yield measurable business value
  7. End the practice of placing enterprise IT spending within the CIO's budget
  8. Eliminate IT-caused business model disruption "surprises"
  9. Eradicate "cloud-a-phobia"
  10. Abandon level 1, 2, and 3 tech support
  11. Cancel most IT chargeback systems
  12. Cease issuing most competitive bids
  13. Stop holding on to unfunded projects
  14. End discrimination against behavioral skills and social sciences
  15. Abandon IT's unbalanced support between front and back office

Sanity check

You've got to like Ken McGee's boldness here, because it is absolutely warranted. IT is facing rising responsibilities with stagnant budgets and it simply can't go on doing things the way it has in the past. It's completely unsustainable. IT has to stop thinking of itself as a business utility and start seeing itself as a business catalyst. In order to do that, it's going to have to think in business terms and economic impact for everything it does, from asking for a replacement router in a branch office to recommending a new cloud app to run customer service. That's ultimately what McGee is getting at, and while the idea has received lip service for years, it's time to use that principle to make some painful decisions that will reshape IT.

About

Jason Hiner is the Global Editor in Chief of TechRepublic and Global Long Form Editor of ZDNet. He is an award-winning journalist who writes about the people, products, and ideas that are revolutionizing the ways we live and work in the 21st century.

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