What Do Love & Efficiency Have in Common?\nThe word \u201clove\u201d can mean very different things to different people \u2013 from how they express it to its various phases. When I asked IT executives and their peers what \u201cefficiency\u201d means to them, I got a very similar reaction \u2013 receiving a variety of inconsistent responses from all across the board.\nOne said that efficiency is about cost reduction or getting better pricing. Another indicated that it is all about consolidation. A third emphasized that it is about an improvement in security. The fourth viewed it according to functionality, with an aim in reducing technology overlap. The last related efficiency to quality.\nFurther, a common comment was that CIOs spend so much time focusing on efficiency that innovation withers. For the love of efficiency \u2013 can we get one all-encompassing, universal definition \u2013 especially within the organization itself?\nExpected Role of CIO\nOne of the expected roles of the CIO is to make things more efficient by improving performance while reducing cost. This may conflict with the goals of other C-level executives, such as CFOs. For example, the CFO\u2019s definition of efficiency may be to increase the top and\/or bottom lines. How the CFO might do that is through forcing cuts in the IT department. So, how does the CIO get more efficient when he\/she needs to adjust to less resources? Further, the CFO's focus may be to grow the company through investments and doesn\u2019t realize the key part efficiency plays in growth. How can a CIO simultaneously foster efficiency while contributing to innovative strategic planning decisions? Can both directives peacefully co-exist?\nWhat Does Efficiency Really Mean?\nSo then, what does it truly mean to be \u201cefficient\u201d? What does it mean to be energy efficient, cost efficient, or technologically efficient?\nAs we saw earlier, IT leaders vary greatly with their definitions, as do other key decision-makers. For example, business leaders might interpret efficiency to come from cutting edge technology that brings a competitive edge or makes the job easier, while IT sees it as related to cost cutting. Yet, in some other organizations IT might advocate the consolidation of legacy applications and data, or investment in infrastructure and resources. These are just some examples of how definitions vary, but it all leads to the same place \u2013 confusion, conflict, and sub-optimized performance.\n5 Basic Ways to Increase Overall IT Efficiency, Organization-Wide\nNo. 1 \u2013 Synonymous Definition\nGet the organization into the same mindset by adopting a common terminology when discussing business values, processes, policies, and procedures. A shared language promotes cooperation and enables thorough comparison across assets, projects, and organizations.\nNo. 2 \u2013 Know the Current State and Create a Roadmap\nAs a team, determine the current as-is state of the organization, IT-wise. Then, define how you\u2019d like things to look in the future (the to-be). Analyze the gap between the start and end points, and then create a map to get you where you need to be. It is amazing how many businesses overlook this crucial step. If you don\u2019t know where you\u2019re going, how will you know how to get there? It starts with knowing your process and includes your people as the first element of the roadmap.\nNo. 3 \u2013 Set Expectations\nNow that your business is reading from the same playbook, it\u2019s time to establish milestones. What are some consensus-driven, realistic measures and metrics that can be built around your plan? For example, if your goal is to be energy efficient, define (as a group!) what that means, where are you today, where do you need to be, and what is your target. Then, set milestones at consistent intervals to check progress against the goals and make corrections as needed.\nNo. 4 \u2013 Put It in Writing\nI know, when you\u2019re in the middle of something, it feels like you\u2019ll never forget the details. But, time passes and memories become fuzzy. Make sure you document, document, document. A great tool is an internal service-level agreement (SLA). This will also help your organization get and stay organized as change occurs, not to mention assess potential impacts and risks.\nNo. 5 \u2013 Re-Evaluate\nJust like with any relationship, you\u2019ve got to take a step back every so often and take stock. Where are you with your results? Are things going according to plan? Do things need to be tweaked? Refer to your initial documentation and check progress against the metrics. Are you more efficient? If not, why not?\u00a0\u00a0 If changes need to be made, follow these 5 steps again. View the process as an iterative cycle, not just a static line from A to B.\nConclusion\nIn business, the definition of efficiency, performance, and success varies from business to business and from executive to executive. What does it mean to your business? If you don\u2019t know, isn\u2019t it time you found out?