3 Questions: What to do if your organization is not in sync with business goals

How does a new CIO know that his organization's IT goals are not in sync with the business and what can he do to correct that?

With Scott Holland, senior director at the Hackett Group, a provider of business process best practice strategies and metrics

This interview originally appeared in the IT Business Edge weekly report on Aligning IT and Business Goals. To see a complete listing of IT Business Edge weekly reports or sign up for this free technology intelligence agent, visit

Question: How does a new CIO know that his organization's IT goals aren't in sync with its overall business goals?

Holland: The first red flag from a senior level is whether he or she is sitting at the table. Are they invited to the management committee table? If not, how can they possibly be aligned? It sounds kind of elementary school, but if the CIO is reporting to the CFO, the chances are that IT is being viewed as more of a cost center and more of a utility, than it is if he reports to the CEO where the CIO is viewed as a strategic enabler.

Question: What's the first thing you do to fix that situation?

Holland: You can't force yourself to report to the CEO. You're going to have to call upon what I would call external sources. For example, you would want to go get external metrics that would first give you a baseline of where you are, and secondly provide empirical data that supports your industry and what best practices are. What those metrics can do is help shed light into scenarios of who should report to whom, how things should be aligned. [You say] "Look, this is what's going on in our industry." If I were the CIO and reported to the CFO, I would suggest that we do this. If there were opportunities for improvement, then let the CEO or the CFO be the champion of the study, so that he or she could think that they are the ones making the right decisions.

Question: How does a CIO measure his or her success?

Holland: We only analyze and investigate when we perceive there's a problem. So it's more of a reactionary approach than a proactive approach. So I would advocate a continuous measurement or monitoring program. What you would do is, on a quarterly basis, say, you would do some form of measurement that would do a couple of things. One would [be to] determine success of progress you made in your endeavor to improve. The other thing is to test the market or the industry to see whether or not your choice to go down this path still follows suit.

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