Together in harmony: CIOs and business unit managers

Tom Pisello, SearchCIO.com expert

There's a major shift afoot in IT spending trends: Today, individual business units, rather than the IT department, control more than 60 percent of IT budgets. This represents a 180-degree change from just 5 years ago.

IT decision-making discussions are getting much bigger than focusing on pure technology - moving away from cost management and centering on business benefits. Now, over 80 percent of all IT investments are made to drive value - increased operating efficiency, better customer service, greater revenue potential - rather than infrastructure improvements.

With the intense scrutiny on IT investments, CIOs need to collaborate with business unit managers to make sure spending will impact bottom-line corporate performance. By working together, IT and business departments will assess the likelihood of risks associated with a project, beyond the initial costs of deployment and immediate benefits.

Business unit managers need to commit to the investment and help assure that key benefits are achieved post-implementation. Critical risks that must be managed by the business unit manager include:

* Business processes that will need to be re-engineered

* Overcoming end-user adoption issues

* Assuring proper training and learning

By agreeing on key performance indicators during the planning phase, CIOs and business unit managers will ensure that spending delivers business benefits, as promised. Then, as the implementation rolls out, these will serve

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as early warning signs and offer an opportunity for redirection to achieve optimal returns.

This was first published in February 2003

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