It seems like every CIO I talk with has or is creating a plan to reduce costs. Whether they’re shooting for a svelte, wiry, emaciated or lean organization, there are a number of common roles that senior IT people say are critical to this goal.
IT planners set up the mechanism to focus on good ideas and kill bad ones. They provide internal and external information, techniques for evaluating projects, and a forum for senior people to make decisions. Their job, however, is not to make the call in most cases. Significant cost cutting has a business impact and IT should not own this.
Architects ensure that decisions in, primarily technical areas, are robust and consider the long term. They operate similar to IT planners, but also perform project work to ensure implementations follow architectural policies and principles.
Vendor managers select and squeeze vendors appropriately. They provide tactical services including contract renegotiations and service changes. At a more strategic level, they select the vendors that are keepers and those that can be dropped.
Relationship managers act on behalf of both business units and IT. They represent their business units in cost cutting negotiations, but at the same time keep an enterprise perspective to ensure a balance between local and company-wide needs.
These groups balance long versus short, and global versus local needs when cutbacks are required. Ironically, because they’re not directly building or maintaining IT systems, they themselves are often targets of budget cuts. Making it worse for these people is that they are more effective when full time on this role. However, when dedicated to these functions, retaining them is less defensible to people outside the IT shop. For example, the retention of relationship managers (RMs) who also manage an applications group is justifiable based on the apps they support. Full time RMs are viewed as overhead. As a result, the CIO needs to make the case for retaining these roles.
If you’ve experienced this problem, please comment. Also, please keep in mind, these roles are discussed in a complimentary Webinar: “Running a Lean IT Organization.” March 10th at 11AM Eastern. People can register at: www.forrester.com/leanitwebinar
By Marc Cecere