Monday, May 5, 2014

How to Gauge CIO Success

CIO is not a static management role, but a dynamic leadership role. 

Modern CIO is perhaps one of the most paradoxical and sophisticated leadership roles in contemporary  business today. As they are leading one of the most complex and dynamic functions of business, and managing one of the most intelligent groups of talent in the organization. What determines the maturity level (performance, strategy, influence) of a CIO and how to measure CIO success (customer satisfaction, employee happiness, project value creation or stakeholders’ expectation) objectively?

Stakeholders’ expectation: Suggestion would be to ask superior, customers, and another stakeholder what their expectations are of you, and whether or not you meet these expectations. Only then you know if you are successful or not. When asking different groups of stakeholders - superior, shareholders, peers, one might get quite different expectations. That CIOs are viewed differently by different stakeholders. In the eyes of one stakeholder - you are successful, but in others, you maybe not. Success is a subjective opinion. Often it is up to CIOs to interpret and leverage the stakeholders’ expectations and come up with an expectation that you believe is suitable for your role. That might require some stakeholder management to make them understand what you are set to do, and what a reasonable expectation is. Some would be measured by the relevance of IT to solve the technical needs of a company (how flexible, quick and responsive is IT around emerging digital technology).

Customer satisfaction: The challenge is that the IT has two categories of customers, internal customers (business peers) and external customers (end customers). Just an example - the senior executive peers expect IT to run smoothly: to keep the light on with solid support for business initiatives, at the more mature organization, they also expect IT to be sync with business strategy and goals other than ensuring and effective IT operation itself. Shareholders expect a stable or slightly sinking IT budget, peers expect agile support and never-breaking systems. It is also important to measure IT project ROI: 2X, 3X value to the customers, measuring in terms of improving time, quality and money situation. There are situations where just maintaining Status Quo could be a major success. Every other measure is leading indicator of the possibility of future success/failure or trailing indicator of past success/failure. Sometimes, wishes from different internal customers or stakeholders are quite contradicting - for example, 24h/365d ays support vs. savings in IT support budget. From the end customer perspective, gauge customer happiness by looking at three aspects - Customer Stickiness, NPS (Net Promoter score) & growth of customer account, however, IT role is so dependent upon other roles as well. For example, if customer growth is not meeting expectations or customer happiness is not where it should be, does that reflect on the CIO and the staff under his or her care or does it reflect on the sales staff and how account managers are managing customer expectations and issues? Either way, digital is the age of the customer, how to delight customer needs to be one of the ultimate goals for IT and the CIO's success.

Employee happiness index: To gauge employee happiness index (happiness at work) either doing a survey or hiring independent third party who can get you qualitative & quantitative assessment of your employee happiness.You can also take reverse feedback to build your own measurement system.It is an assessment of employee engagement, meaning associated with their Job, flexibility, career growth and freedom.Treat them same by treating them differently, encourage employees to pursue autonomy, mastery, and purpose.  A happy workforce can make the workplace more creative and productive, and drive business success in long term. 

The CIO is not a static management role, but a dynamic leadership role due to the changing nature of technology. A big component of success has to do with the definitions or scope of the role that the CIO is playing. The CIO responsibilities can be quite varied even with the same title or position. One challenge that needs to work through is not only defining the role of the CIO but how do the other C-levels and ownership provide positive feedback for not only continued success in the role but continued growth in the role. 


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