Strategic CIO // Executive Insights & Innovation
Commentary
1/7/2009
06:34 PM
Bob Evans
Bob Evans
Commentary
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CIO Replies To CEO: 10 Reasons To Keep Me

Four weeks ago, CEO Jim wrote a performance-review letter to CIO Pat questioning whether Pat is in fact the right person for the job. As requested, Pat has written a response in which he lays out a 10-point plan for how he and the CEO can work together to use IT to enhance business value. Pat also tells his boss to stop threatening him and start supporting him.

Four weeks ago, CEO Jim wrote a performance-review letter to CIO Pat questioning whether Pat is in fact the right person for the job. As requested, Pat has written a response in which he lays out a 10-point plan for how he and the CEO can work together to use IT to enhance business value. Pat also tells his boss to stop threatening him and start supporting him.Pat the CIO's full response can be found in this week's Global CIO column, and and you can see the letter from Jim the CEO that started the whole discussion here. Jim's big complaint is that Pat has failed to cut the maintenance portion of the IT budget from 80% to 60% in order to free up money for important new projects, and he's threatened to fire Pat unless he comes up with a plan to get that done. So from Pat's 10-point plan, here are two examples in which he offers a solution to the constant head-butting with the CFO, and advocates for a more-aggressive adoption of SaaS applications.

[CFO battles:] Your letter mentioned my 2008 success in data-center consolidation, but we could have had even more success if Susan [the CFO] hadn't stonewalled my attempts to remove outdated communications, networking, and security systems in more than 30 branches and go with new IP systems that are 70% less expensive. She said this was an issue for her Facilities team to deal with, and that they don't have the time to work with my team to make these strategic changes.

[SaaS advocacy:] With regard to some of our applications, we need to stop talking about how wonderful the SaaS model could be, and actually start the process of moving some of our noncore apps out of house and over to some of the proven SaaS players. This stuff isn't fringe science anymore -- as I've noted in various reports, big global companies are rapidly adopting the SaaS model for HR, finance, purchasing, and more. But -- and this is not a complaint or an excuse, but just a statement of fact -- every time I've tried to make this happen in the past six months, I've been stonewalled by the Legal Department because they say the guarantees of privacy from the SaaS vendors I've selected aren't tight enough. I won't bore you with the details, Jim, but this objection is absurd -- and on top of that, the paralysis from legal is costing us about $200,000 per month.

So what do you think: should Jim give Pat the ax, or should Jim give Pat a big fat raise? Share your vote in the comment section below.

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