Establish an I

By Baselinemag  |  Posted 2007-08-03 Print this article Print

At too many companies, technology managers aren't on the same wavelength with the top business executives. Here are 10 ideas for improving that dynamic.

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2. Establish an I.T. Steering Committee
Here's one route to good governance on which virtually everyone agrees. But there is less agreement on how it should work and what it's for. Far too often, I.T. steering committees are created for a specific project or are put in place to save an initiative that has gone wrong. The committee's charter should be more strategic than that.

The central role of the committee in aligning business with I.T. is evident in its composition. In addition to the CIO, I.T. steering committees typically include some very senior business executives—often the chief executive or chief financial officer. This forces the company's business leaders to participate in decisions about technology spending, and gives the CIO face time with people who need to understand the obstacles he's encountering. "There's a lot of expectation-setting," says Progressive Medical's Mazzocco.

A skillful CIO can also use the steering committee to facilitate a change in priorities. Not long ago, for instance, the I.T. team at Progressive had to set aside some projects to do the data conversion necessary to accommodate a major new customer. For help, Mazzocco turned to his partners on the steering committee—the CEO, CFO and head of sales. "To have the most visible business executives saying [to people whose projects were delayed], 'Look, here's what's happening,' rather than just me saying it, made my job much easier," Mazzocco says.

As the role of technology has gained importance at some companies, a stint as co-chair of the I.T. steering committee is a prerequisite to advancing through the ranks, as important, say, as running a foreign subsidiary.

Next Best Practice: Know How (And When) To Do a Business Case


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