What do the first 100 days of a new CIO look like and should look like? While people know that the role of Chief Information Officer is integral to the success of the company, so much of what a CIO actually does to keep the business running occurs behind the scenes or at a level which most employees and executives do not understand. It is vital that in the first 100-days relationships and networks are created that will inspire confidence in the job you will be doing throughout your tenure. At the same time, it is important that you begin the actual work of leading all aspects of technology within the company. But how can you do both without feeling like you’re having to divide your focus between the work of running things and the work of creating relationships?
Creating a plan for the First 100 Days of a New CIO
Obviously creating a plan is an important step to beginning tenure as a leader in any company, but done correctly, this step can become the perfect opportunity to bridge the work you are doing with the IT department at every level with the C-Level executives who are less likely to fully understand the technology. Your plan must be fully comprehensive in its ability to shape the IT department, but it needs to be framed in a way (and written in a language) for people who might feel alienated by in-depth discussion of technology. Here’s how to create a strong plan that will both get things done and inspire confidence in both the people who run the company and the people who work there, directly and indirectly with technology.
1. Always Start at the Top
Everyone has their own ideas of what they’d like to see accomplished, but in creating a mandate and then prioritizing how to put it into effect, the opinion of the people in charge counts the most.
In order to know where you want to go with the plan, and to put it in terms that will be best understood at your company requires a deep understanding of what the company is about and where the technology department is. This analysis of both of these things should begin before your first day. At this time, in addition to regular background information, identify problems that exist in the current IT department. From there, the first step in beginning to formulate your plan is to start at the top. Everyone has their own ideas of what they’d like to see accomplished, but in creating a mandate and then prioritizing how to put it into effect, the opinion of the people in charge counts the most. Start there in the process of creating the mandate. Now it’s your turn to interview. The people who have hired you did so because of your expertise in technology, and now put that expertise to work, along with that you have gathered about the strengths and weaknesses of the company’s IT department. The best way to gather the information you need to know from people who may not have a comprehensive understanding about the company’s technology department is to ask the right questions. Here are some examples:
- What is working for you right now in the technology department?
- What isn’t working?
- In 6 months and one year’s time, what do you most want to see the technology department having newly accomplished?
- How about more long-term goals for how technology will ideally be helping this company grow?
- In an ideal world, what would you like to see technology accomplish at the company?
- What technology failures are you most afraid of?
Always be forthright about the strengths and weaknesses that you have discovered. You want to be positive, think big and set high goals, while also making sure that you are clear about what realistic expectations are. Always end each of these interviews by asking, “what else would you like me to ask about the company and technology?”
2. Create a Mandate and Take Action
Use the information gathered from these initial stages to create a basic outline for your plan. In a sense, this is a plan in its most simplistic form, only a skeleton based not on what you’re going to do specifically, but what the major goals of the company are.
Your future success as CIO is dependent on how well you are able to incorporate the needs and workflow of individual departments, from marketing to HR to sales and everything in between.
In order to know how to implement actions to achieve those goals, you will need more information as well as a stronger relationship with the people you’ll be working with, but you should choose one project that will work towards these goals that you can begin to implement immediately. Choose a project that will be noticeable and will fit the mandate perfectly. It may be that this project feels largely symbolic, but that’s alright, it is vital to be seen as hitting the ground running, and taking concrete actions that move the company closer to achieving the mandate will accomplish that.
3. Begin Building Relationships
This is both a fact-finding mission, but also strategic for introducing yourself and building relationships. How can you use what you learn to add to the plan you are building, while strengthening the central goal of the mandate? A technology plan is only as good as the extent to which it encompasses the other major departments of a company. Your future success as CIO is dependent on how well you are able to incorporate the needs and workflow of individual departments, from marketing to HR to sales and everything in between. You’ll be creating you’re reputation, but you’ll also be filling out the skeletal outline of the plan you’ve created, with the nuts and bolts of what you need to get done.
4. Focus on Building your Team
How will they fit into your plan? Before you can begin effecting your plan you’ll need to have a strong team in place, that you understand and that knows you. If you are able to accomplish this before you have finalized your plan, you will be able to hit the ground running from the moment your full plan has been approved.
5. Survey the Clients to Find Out Their Needs
Too often we see a separation between technology departments and clients. By setting up a direct connection with clients and their needs from the start, you’ll be creating a technology department that has a fundamental advantage over the technology departments of so many other companies. You can also accomplish another imperative at the same time by including your team in this process. This will allow you to get to know your team in action and familiarize yourself with how they work. It will also allow you to establish yourself as the leader and create clear expectations and goals.
6. Now It’s Time to Create the Full Plan
Use all of the information you’ve gathered to create an extremely detailed first year plan. This should outline everything you are going to do, and ideally, everything will clearly tie back to the original mandate. The target audience should be C-Level executives and the board. That is who this is written for. But this plan should also read as valuable information to every person on your team as well as every department you’ll be working with.
7. If the First 100 Days Are “Ready” and “Set” Time, Now It’s GO Time
By tying in all aspects of a detailed plan to achievement of a company’s goals, you’re sure to impress. When any reader of the plan is able to easily observe how actions line up directly with accomplishing the overall mandate you are speaking the language that is universal to the business world. What is more, you will now be in possession of a detailed roadmap for how to get there. And in creating and fostering relationships with C-Level executives, department heads and creating a strong team, you’ll have the most valuable tools you’ll need to put the plan into effect. And from this strong foundation created in your first 100 days, it’s now time to put the plan into effect.