by CIO Staff

Vendor Management, Agile Development Key to CIO Role

Jul 01, 20013 mins

When you boil it down, a CIO’s job is fundamentally about making technology work for the business. At the heart of this charter is making sure suppliers and the organization’s own development teams deliver what the business needs.

These two goals are achieved by very different means. Getting what you need from vendors starts with picking the right ones in the first place. While the due diligence process may seem too costly and time-consuming to some IT executives, the consequences of not fully vetting key vendors before you commit to their products can cripple your operations and cost a whole lot more?including your job. This up-front assessment and the subsequent contract you negotiate are insurance against getting left in the lurch.

Still, some people simply don’t believe in insurance. And CIOs who have come up through technology may not have a lot of patience for the process?until that first major failure. Before that day comes, read “Do Diligence,” by Senior Writer Meridith Levinson (beginning on Page 64), and learn why it’s so important to scrutinize your vendors?and how to do it right.

Delivering on internal projects requires a completely different set of competencies and activities. It’s all about project management and development practices, and in the 35 years people have been developing software systems, things haven’t improved much. That has to do in part with the debate over whether programming is art or science and the attempts to apply strict engineering disciplines to software development (it doesn’t work). It has to do with the fact that many previous methodologies, smart as they are, are difficult to carry out.

What’s needed?and what has arrived?is a simpler approach based on the same fundamentals we’ve know about since the late ’60s but have somehow been unable to live up to. It’s called Agile Development, and it and its many cousins cut to the chase and offer prescriptions that work if you work them?sort of a 12-step program (well, it’s actually six) for coding your way to a better future. Senior Writer Scott Berinato tells you what it’s all about in “The Secret to Software Success,” beginning on Page 76.

Sure, there’s more to the CIO’s job than getting what you need from vendors and delivering projects to spec on time and within budget, but without those two fundamentals the rest of it doesn’t really matter a whole lot.