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Secret CIO: 5 Steps To That CIO Title

I advise a frustrated reader on how to win the CIO title he wants and deserves.
But before getting to this discussion, you need a plan to press for the CIO title. Devote some time and effort to changing management's perception of your responsibilities, importance to the company, competence and the compensation that you deserve.

Here are my five suggestions for creating the right impression:

1. Take Care Of The IT Fundamentals. If, after four years, your company's IT infrastructure is still broken and you can't keep the lights on, the rest of this discussion doesn't really matter. And make sure you assess your situation from your company's point of view, not yours.

2. Spend More Time With Your Business Counterparts. Those would be the departmental VPs, especially those who runs sales and operations. Focus on what they need to succeed. Explain that your organization can adjust Dynamics AX, if needed, to meet critical requirements, but that you need to understand what they are. Your goal is to enable better performance than they thought possible, and you need to ensure that AX has the right configurations, ready to go. Ask the departmental chiefs how they measure your success, and make sure they see results in their terms.

3. If You Don't Know Your Core Business, Learn It. Find out where your markets are headed. Talk with key customers to find out what sort of IT enablement would extend your company's value. Recommend new sub-projects or AX extensions that will support your ideas.

4. Research Your Competitors. Determine if they have key IT initiatives that threaten your company. Present this information to your management team and explain the counter strike you would like to make.

5. Hand Over Day-To-Day Management Of The AX Conversion. Give it to a highly competent lieutenant. You need to remove yourself from your current job and distance yourself from that project. Give the new ERP manager credit for his/her work, and don't let the project come off the rails.

Then go to your boss. Explain that you value industry recognition. Explain that you participate in industry groups and conferences, such as the InformationWeek 500, and that your peers have CIO titles. Explain that you'll have greater influence with the company's IT vendors if you have the CIO title. Explain that the title is important to you. And then simply ask: What do I need to do in order to have the CIO title?

If the answer is to your liking, make sure you and your boss are clear on the terms and the start date. If you don't get the answer you want, then begin the search for a CIO position elsewhere. If you're qualified, you'll find it.

And once you're close, give your boss another chance at addressing your needs. At that point, there should be no surprises; you should be able to have a healthy conversation that will either lead to the title you seek, or you will leave on good terms.

In this economy, 45 might be the new 35. We all might be in the workforce longer that we expected. The last thing I'd suggest you do is bet on hope.

All the best, soon-to-be-CIO!