These are turbulent times the likes of which haven’t been seen in decades! However, these are the times when the CIOs have to act boldly and take steps not only to weather the storm, but prepare the business for calmer waters when the economy improves. Having gone through past economic downturns, I have learned some lessons that are valuable:
*First and foremost, this is not the time to ‘pull in horns’. This is the time to take action, face the winds of change, and look ahead to the horizon.
* Resource management strategy is critical during difficult times. Actions taken without forethought and planning will impede the IT organization in future.
* Just as a palm tree bends easily during storm, flexibility in managing resources through economic turbulence will allow the organization to remain strong once the storm has passed.
More than half of a CIO’s budget deals with human resources, and almost all of IT success or failure depends upon the selection, deployment, and utilization of these resources. During stable economic periods, the CIOs generally have a predictable strategy for deployment and utilization of resources. But during turbulent times everything becomes unpredictable. Think about a financial institution that must realign its business by divesting, acquiring, or merging ? and doing so very quickly. Airlines need to realign schedules and utilization of their aircraft to address rising fuel costs. White goods manufacturers that have to adjust manufacturing and distribution to account for a slowdown in housing and construction during a recession. These situations require the CIO to alter the system’s plans and directions, literally overnight. This means shelving projects, changing scope, speeding up or slowing down delivery of systems, adopting new business processes, and doing all these with as little disruption as possible. These challenges are exacerbated by shrinking budgets and headcounts.
How can a CIO proactively address these challenges and balance the short-term business needs against the long-term health of the organization? My experience says that a CIO needs to have a resource strategy in place that would allow him or her to address these problems long before they occur. There are two foundations for a balanced resource strategy: