Among the unenlightened, running IT \u201clike a business\u201d is supposed to be best practice, delivering goods and services to internal customers who IT must fully satisfy, and who then pay for what IT delivers to them through the auspices of a charge-back system.\n\nAs has been pointed out in this space numerous times (for example, here), this is a terrible idea.\n\nWhat isn\u2019t a terrible idea: being businesslike \u2014 that is, being professional about addressing IT\u2019s organizational obligations, which are both essential and tangential to its core mission.\n\nIT managers typically consider these responsibilities, which fall under the rubric of \u201cadministrivia,\u201d to be time-sucking distractions. They want to focus on delivering, integrating, and managing the company\u2019s applications portfolio, and on making sure IT\u2019s infrastructure is fully available and delivering proper performance.\n\nIn other words, it\u2019s IT Apps and Ops \u2014 the heart of what IT does for a living. Everything else matters but doesn\u2019t add its own value to the equation.\n\nEnter the \u2018IT Business Office\u2019\n\nWise CIOs don\u2019t try to argue that handling administrivia is valuable; time well spent and not a distraction at all. They don\u2019t try because all they\u2019d accomplish by making this claim would be to lose credibility.\n\nBy the same token these same CIOs also don\u2019t agree that administrivia adds no value. They shouldn\u2019t agree because, while aggravating, these responsibilities can\u2019t be dispensed with \u2014 they represent real work that really must get done.\n\nWhich is why many wise CIOs create an IT Business Office and make it responsible for alleviating the administrative burden for the IT organization, taking on responsibilities like the following:\n\nIT\u2019s performance metrics and reporting systems: Doing metrics right isn\u2019t easy. Just formulating them well takes a lot of effort. Add to that the reporting systems IT managers need so their metrics are more than just ad hoc statistics computed via unaudited spreadsheets. And then, figure in what\u2019s needed so the metrics used by different managers make sense together.\n\nEach IT process steward (the synonym for \u201cmanager\u201d) still needs to be responsible for defining their key process metrics, on the grounds that if they\u2019re responsible for a process they\u2019re responsible for defining the metrics that gauge process health.\n\nBut asking them to make sure their metrics integrate with everyone else\u2019s metrics is asking too much. Coordination is the IT Business Office\u2019s raison d\u2019\u00eatre.\n\nVendor negotiations and contracts: Negotiating is both skill and art. Analyzing contract terms and conditions is more so. Monitoring a vendor\u2019s compliance? That shouldn\u2019t be an afterthought \u2014 someone needs to be responsible.\n\nIn theory this should all be handled in the General Counsel\u2019s office. But while the company\u2019s legal staff are its experts when it comes to analyzing contracts, they aren\u2019t its experts in the subject matter that IT\u2019s vendor contracts and license agreements govern.\n\nSo vendor negotiations and contracts must be a collaboration between IT and the General Counsel, with IT\u2019s Business Office taking the lead.\n\nOverseeing the IT budgeting process: Each IT manager has a budget to manage to. Sadly, in most companies budgeting looks more like a game of pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey than a well defined and consistent algorithm.\n\nIn principle, a lot of IT staffing can be derived from a parameter-driven model. This can be hard to reconcile with Accounting\u2019s requirements for budget development. With an IT Business Office to manage the relationship with Accounting, IT can explain its methods once, instead of manager-by-manager-by-manager.\n\nCoordinating new-employee onboarding: Business-wide, new-employee onboarding should be coordinated by HR, but more often each piece of the onboarding puzzle is left to the department responsible for that piece.\n\nAn IT Business Office can\u2019t and shouldn\u2019t try to fix this often-broken process throughout the enterprise. But onboarding new IT employees is, if anything, even more complicated than onboarding anyone else\u2019s employees. An IT Business Office can, if nothing else, smooth things out for newly hired IT professionals so they can start to work the day they show up for work.\n\nCoordinating the employee performance review process: Nobody likes the employee performance management (aka \u201cperformance review\u201d) process. Not the manager who has to deliver the assessment; not the employees who have to receive them; not HR that has to make the process work enterprise wide.\n\nAnd every time HR shovels in the coming year\u2019s improvement to this process, everyone hates the result even more.\n\nIt\u2019s another broken enterprise process an IT Business Office can\u2019t fix. But it can, at least, establish the schedule, familiarize all IT managers in how it\u2019s supposed to be done, and process-manage it to fruition.\n\nWho should run the show?\n\nTo the cynical, establishing an IT Business Office might look like the CIO is dumping every management headache into one sorry spot.\n\nBut that is demonstrably untrue, because if that was the case the IT Business Office would be responsible for technical architecture management, too.\n\nStill and all, it sure does look like Excedrin Central.\n\nBut it doesn\u2019t have to be, because there are some managers who thrive on a diet of organizing this sort of chaos and keeping it organized.\n\nAs CIO, your job is to find that sort of manager, and to give them enough teeth to make sure everyone else can\u2019t procrastinate their contributions to death.