by Abbie Lundberg

The CIO’s Critical Mission

Mar 23, 20073 mins

CIOs need to think multi­dimensionally when designing IT systems and architectures for their organizations.

The professional lives of CIOs have never been simple, and they’re not getting any simpler. In this issue it becomes clear that for IT to fulfill its mission, CIOs must master such matters as size and complexity, speed, capacity, and even space and time.

Martha Heller, author of our Career Strategist column, tackles the issue of size and complexity, offering advice to CIOs looking to make the move from midsize companies to larger, more complicated organizations. Her advice is right on: Show that your skills can scale; figure out how influence and communication work in a more layered and extended environment; think about how you would operate differently in a more formal management structure. Best of all, her counsel is backed up by the real-world experience of three CIOs who have successfully made the transition.

Our cover story, “CIO-CFO Cooperation,” by Galen Gruman, is an in-depth look at the strategic benefits of redesigning your organization’s financial processes in order to close the books faster. Improvements of a just few days can have a ripple effect throughout the business. They can help business executives identify problems and opportunities much earlier; clarify the relationship of all financial information so managers and executives can do analysis outside the box; and, by providing accurate filings more quickly than competitors, increase investor confidence.

In “Questions to Answer Before Recruiting IT Staff ,” Senior Writer Stephanie Overby addresses one of the main challenges of an improving IT climate: As demand increases, how do you increase capacity proportionally? What are the best ways to find and hold on to scarce IT talent? Overby explains why you need a recruiting framework, offers tips for calculating compensation and answers the seven most critical questions concerning finding and keeping the people you need.

And as the Iraq war enters its fifth year, we talk to Lt. General Robert Dail, commander of the Defense Logistics Agency, about how IT can help overcome the challenges of moving massive amounts of materiel across vast and daunting geographies . Dail assumed leadership of the DLA a little over seven months ago, not long after the release of reports that were highly critical of the agency’s performance during the early days of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. The DLA also had been criticized by the Government Accountability Office for lax information security practices. Dail believes that good information and the right systems, managed well, are the key to fulfilling the Agency’s critical mission.

Ultimately, the CIO’s critical mission is to make sure the organization he or she serves is as flexible, responsive, secure and intelligent as it can be. And that requires operating in many different dimensions.