CEO Needs To Talk To CIO To Improve Processes. DOH! Wrong Person!

I have just read a very disturbing summary of a presentation the Gartner Symposium in Silicon.com. But is it symptomatic of the blinkered IT thinking that seem to surround the word ‘process’. Now I accept that the word process means something different to every person. In fact we have a concept of hats which is explained in a recent blog called What hat are you wearing?

The Gartner presentation talked about “What CIOs need to know to get cosy with the CEO…Learn what’s worrying your chief exec – and what IT can do about it.” They identified 7 things which were all very valid. But I have issue with the advice for one area which we know very well. (A typical English understatement. Actually we are thought leaders.) The point I have a problem with, because the advice is misguided is CEOs: Seeking efficiencies – CIOs: Automate and overhaul old ways.

It is a very, very valid concern for CEOs, but they are probably asking the wrong person if they are turning to the CIO. Surely it is the COO they should be looking to.

All the research shows that of a company’s business processes only 20% are (or can be) automated. That leaves 80% which are manual, in people’s heads and therefore need to be documented, shared and adopted by end users. For multiple reasons:

– efficiency and cost savings; 17% of a person’s time is now spent looking for the right form, screen, document. DM and intranets are not helping. Processes will and do.

– compliance; regulatory compliance is only going to get worse to. It should come for free with a well run business

– agility; a well documented business allows transferability of work between staff and offshore. How can you be agile if you don’t have a starting point?

Pie in the sky? Theory? Suitable for small companies?

(BTW What can the CIO do? Stop talking about process in terms of automation and start talking about business management. Only then will they start being invited to sit at the Exec table. )

Ian Gotts is CEO and Chairman of Nimbus Partners, an established and rapidly growing global software company, headquartered in the UK. He is a very experienced senior executive and serial entrepreneur, with a career spanning 25 years. Ian has co-authored a number of books including “Common Approach, Uncommon Results”, published in English and Chinese and in its second edition, "Why Killer Products Don't Sell" and books covering Cloud computing from the perspective of both the prospective buyer, and the software vendor. Having begun his career in 1983 as an engineer for British Rail, Ian then spent 12 years at Accenture (nee Andersen Consulting) specialising in the project management of major business critical IT projects. During this time, he spent two years as an IT Director, seconded to the Department for Social Security (DSS), with a department of over 500 and a budget responsibility of 40 million pounds.