First impressions are essential to your success and your first 100 days as CIO are critical to making the most out of your tenure.
You’ve accepted a new position, to become CIO of an enterprise and your start date is fast approaching. As a careful, considerate thinker, it’s natural that you’ll want to prepare for an efficient and successful transition.
In the enterprise, it’s common to consider the first 100 days as a period of setting standards or reaffirming existing requirements. This holds true whether the company is fairly established already and has been operating successfully for many years, or if it is a new startup that has run into some trouble with the software and technology it relies on.
What follows is background information to prepare you for your first 100 days as the new CIO in your organization.
The order in which to take on these tasks is not written in stone. Which ones you prioritize will depend on factors such as the type of industry, current state of the company’s IT department, current and upcoming initiatives, and whatever major concerns the CEO and board of directors may currently be wrestling with.
Anticipate that there may be some wariness among employees about who the new CIO is, which you can address by introducing yourself, meeting with your teams early on. Then, it’s time to hit the ground running. “By identifying a few easily accomplished objectives, a CIO can begin building up a reputation that helps them earn the trust and confidence of their teams,” noted vXchnge.
Assess the State of IT
An important aspect of your first 100 days on the job will be to research and assess the current state of IT in the company you’re merging with. This includes noting legacy systems that will be incompatible with the new enterprise, viewing service agreements, and checking if applications are redundant or simply not up to the new workflow.
Gauge Alignment with Business
The health and security of the new company that arises out of the M&A depends on you closely aligning the focus of IT with the business goals of the company.
You might eliminate an outdated or unnecessary policy, or put an end to a project that’s been limping along with no clear successor in sight. Showing that you can make tough decisions early on will help you cement your reputation in the enterprise.
Of course, one of your top priorities as the incoming CIO will be to assess the current level of security and what threats are currently lined up against your organization. Make yourself familiar with the organization’s state of compliance with security requirements, such as safeguarding sensitive data stored on customers or employees.
Review all aspects of security, from dashboards to the IT department’s cybersecurity monitoring capabilities. Find out when was the last time employees went through security training or were advised about important security updates. It’s possible you are being brought on board at least in part to address the failings of the previous CIO.
Evaluate IT Talent
A major issue could be holes in key positions in the company’s IT staff. It’s therefore essential that you assess the capacity and capabilities of the current staff. Then, you will need to assess the structure of the entire IT organization.
CIO Journal recommends that you look for employees who have been performing under par because they worked under a weak manager, and who could step up to the plate when strong management takes over.
It noted, “After evaluating the capabilities of the IT team and identifying high and low performers, CIOs can develop a talent plan that integrates in-progress talent moves, prioritizes the most important job roles, manages out the weakest links, and optimizes the use of vendors and external partners.”
Bringing in new talent can take quite a while, so recruitment will be top of mind until the positions are filled to your satisfaction.
What has been happening in the organization, from a risk-avoidance perspective before your arrival as CIO? You’ll want to conduct a full risk assessment, analyzing security processes. How many times have outages occurred and how long does it take for you to get back up and running?
An important factor in risk assessment involves reviewing current staff and what their roles are in maintaining continuity of operations. You may need to build redundancy into the system with additional employees or more hardware and security infrastructure.
After you review the organization’s current plans and projects destined for the pipeline, you’ll need to set aside some time for meetings to create a strategy for the IT team to meet the objectives. This assumes there was little or no strategizing going on before you.
It’s entirely possible that the strategic goals in place now are still valid as well as being achievable under current market conditions and the state of existing technology and software. The details you put together for a revamped IT strategy will be needed when you meet with the company’s board of directors.
Meet With the Board of Directors
When you introduce yourself formerly to your new organization’s board of directors, you’ll be armed with a list of projects and how they are prioritized. You’ll show the board your plans in as much detail as they desire, to show them the criteria to apply to measure your success with the IT department.
Doing so will help instill confidence in you and your ability to manage the company’s computational infrastructure. When you meet with them again during follow-up sessions, you will have the signed-off plans to compare with the results you deliver.
Explain what your priorities are for IT and what current plans are, so your team will know exactly what’s expected of them, and so that various departments in the organization can be aware of what to anticipate too, such as security enhancements.
Whether you use email, video conferences, in-person meetings, or all-digital presentations with a PowerPoint deck, it’s essential to keep people in the loop.
Analyze Contracts to Bring Down Operating Costs
Make a point of reviewing all current contracts to see where costs can be cut in IT.
Perhaps the company is paying more than it should for certain services, or you are not even using what you are paying for. As CIO Journal put it, “New CIOs can also review vendor and external partner spending and upcoming contracts. Asking top vendors to analyze their contracts and bring forward their best value propositions may reveal opportunities to save money and time.”
Reducing costs on unneeded services allows you greater flexibility in IT spending, which not only pleases the CEO, CFO, and board of directors but also the information technology professionals who want to work with state-of-the-art computer hardware and software.
Get Up to Speed on Customer Satisfaction
In this case, “Customer satisfaction” has to do with your employees and not the customers you sell goods or services to, as pointed out by CIO. It’s a good idea to assess how well the IT department has been meeting worker needs, such as by reviewing help desk trouble tickets with analytics. Surveys of employees can help identify weaknesses too.
You can regard every chance meeting or scheduled interaction with these customers as a form of market research to determine how well information technology staffers are interfacing with the rest of the company’s stakeholders.
Emerge as a Key Partner of the Business
Solidifying your position as a vital member of the team is one of the most important tasks to work on as the CIO during a merger. You will be the person the company principals rely on for insight into budgetary issues, the timing of when you might test and possibly adopt new software and technology tools. Participating in human resources issues will also be part of your portfolio, as you will be responsible for maintaining proper levels of staffing to suit each new endeavor supported by IT.
Go Easy On Yourself: Anticipate the Potential for Random Setbacks During Your First 100 Days as CIO
Following industry best practices will help demonstrate your professionalism when you come on board. But despite all of your best efforts to get off to a roaring start during the first 100 days as the CIO in your new company, keep in mind that mistakes may be made by you or members of your team.
You can’t possibly account for every potential mishap, especially during the unpredictable transition period. But planning ahead now and getting buy-in for your updated timeline’s milestones will give your enterprise a framework to avoid errors or at least mitigate problems as soon as they arise.