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Four signs that the CIO is about to be fired

Four signs that the CIO is about to be fired

Tech firm CEO Colin Earl shares insights from 25-plus years as developer, product manager—and yes, a CIO.

Would you see it coming? More importantly, could you do something to prevent it?

Colin Earl, Agiloft

There’s a not-funny joke out there—that the acronym “CIO” has come to mean “Career Is Over”.

It stings because the average tenure of a CIO is less than five years and one in four gets fired for poor performance—even when they’ve successfully rolled out major new applications on time and on budget. No wonder some are blindsided when they are let go.

What about you? Would you see it coming? More importantly, could you do something to prevent it? Speaking from my 25-plus years of experience as a developer, product manager—and yes, a CIO too—I believe you can.

First, watch for these four signs of trouble:

  • Disconnection between business managers and IT. A deployment may be a success from an IT perspective, but if the application doesn’t deliver ROI to business users, it will be considered a failure.
  • Major application failure. Nobody predicted such exceptionally high loads, and the new application can’t cope. From the business’ perspective, that’s the CIO’s fault.
  • Compliance failure. With regulatory scrutiny a reality, businesses must implement both appropriate procedures and show an auditor how they were followed. Failure to do so can bring serious consequences, including fines, and the CIO is often the scapegoat.
  • Exceeding deadlines and budget. CIOs can’t know everything about a project in advance—but the business blames them anyway.

CIOs can prevent all these problems and build a successful career through two key strategies: using effective management approaches to stay ahead of the curve and making the right software decisions.

Effective management bridges business and IT concerns

Always consider how the business users see IT. In their view, it’s IT’s job is to provide the company a tangible competitive edge by enabling it to respond swiftly to changing market conditions. This perspective makes it easier to understand that when business managers request a change to an application, they’re shocked, even resentful, to hear that they must wait at least two months – or more!

A successful CIO doesn’t react to this anger, but preempts it by building mutual respect, understanding, and alignment with other high-level business managers through consistent, clear communication and leadership skills. Kim Nash, an analyst from Forrester Research, notes “CIOs need the ability to run their IT departments in a business-like way. Too many can’t talk the same metrics as their colleagues on the business side.”

So, speak their language. Agree on the metrics for success. Set clear expectations and monitor progress at every stage. Above all, make sure they know that you’re one of “us” not “them.”

No-code software helps IT deliver what the business wants

Relating to the needs of the business is a start, but you also need to deliver the software on tight timelines and tight budgets. It’s not easy. The Standish Group asserts in its “Chaos Report” that fewer than 35 percent of IT projects are considered a success, and roughly 25 percent are cancelled altogether.

The good news is that no-code platforms can dramatically speed and simplify every stage of a project. Eliminating coding removes the primary causes of project failure; no custom code means no custom bugs. No programmers means no uncertainty about how long the system will take to configure and when the business users change their mind about what exactly they want, it can be updated in a matter of days. Best of all, there is no black-box code to maintain - everything is exposed through the admin GUI.

A deployment may be a success from an IT perspective, but if the application doesn’t deliver ROI to business users, it will be considered a failure.

Colin Earl, CIO turned CEO

Speed and flexibility makes it easy to communicate and scope functionality with business executives. When IT departments can build and deploy significant projects in weeks and modify them in hours or days, even the most demanding CEO's may finally be satisfied. In brief, CIOs can leverage this emerging technology to reduce the load on their IT department while improving response times and delivering value to the business.

Set a course for success

Becoming more agile and responsive to the needs of the business does more to enhance a CIO’s success than any other change. No-code software can support this effort through:

  • Business-focused software design helps business and IT communicate up front about business processes and agree on ROI.

  • No-code functionality doubles development speed and eliminates application failure.

  • Proven, reusable code reduces unknown factors and makes planning and budgeting more reliable.

While CIOs are too often left holding the bag at the end of an IT mishap, they’re in a prime position to identify and implement technologies to advance the business and deliver a competitive advantage. Opting for a no-code solution to increase IT delivery speed on new applications and changes, while enabling better communication around project timelines, help builds credibility and reduces uncertainty with other internal stakeholders. By getting ahead of the predictable challenges that face the CIO role, these executives can use their position as a launching pad to new opportunities instead of updating their resume for a quick departure.

Colin Earl is a software industry veteran with more than 25 years of experience as a developer, product manager and CIO. He is now the CEO and founder of Agiloft.

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