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IT Leadership // CIO Insights & Innovation
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John Soat
John Soat

Hired Guns: CIO Consultants

Temporary CIO talent can be a quick fix, but is it worth it in the long run?

Temporary CIO talent can be a quick fix, but is it worth it in the long run?I received an interesting response to a column I wrote recently about the first things a CIO should do when entering a new job. I was contacted by an organization called CIO Group, which was touting a recent publication of theirs entitled "The CIO's First 100 Days: A Roadmap To Success."

CIO Group specializes in technology management consulting services, according to John McCreight, managing partner. The CIO Group has about 23 consultants "on call," most of them retired CIOs, and it specializes in "quick fix" scenerios. "Happiness to us is that we start and finish within 90 days," says McCreight.

McCreight himself has a background in IT, back in the days when it was referred to as MIS. He then moved into management consulting, winding up as a partner with Touche Ross (now Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu), before launching his own consulting firm, McCreight & Co., in 1983. McCreight and his partner, Rino Bergonzi, launched CIO Group four years ago.

"We do a lot of work associated with mergers," McCreight says. The firm advises on such issues as IT governance and the financial structure for IT functions, as well as "which hardware platform is right, which software platform is right," he says. "You can get into religious debates very quickly on this. We have to able to deal with large groups of people that often don't agree with each other."

Another area CIO Group specializes in: evaluating IT talent. "It's making sure the right executives get the right jobs," he says.

While CIO Group's mandate is the quick fix, it sometimes works out differently. The firm has one consultant in Washington DC who's been been working in a client engagement for almost three years. "This consultant is adding a dimension to someone who is learning to be a CIO," McCreight says. "He's with [the CIO] a couple of days a week -- the only client he wants to handle." This particular agency is going through a significant reorganization, which is why the engagement has stretched out the way it has. "The CIO job is getting larger than before," McCreight says.

Fair enough. But does it take three years to learn how to be a CIO?

"Every engagement tends to be unique," says McCreight.

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