IT heads over-manage

IT heads are spending too much time managing the IT department, analyst Gartner has said.

IT heads are spending too much time managing the IT department, analyst Gartner has said.

In its annual 2008 CIO Survey Gartner found that CIOs in EMEA currently spent 40% of their time managing their IT teams and 60% of their IT budget running the business.

The CIOs surveyed said their top priority for 2008 was to deliver projects that enabled business growth, but that they were being held back by spending too much time managing their own IT departments and focusing on operational IT.

Gartner vice-president research, Dave Aron, said, "Globally, we are seeing that CIOs need to improve the efficiency of IT, which will give the IT team space to run other projects."

Aron recommended that IT heads align the IT department with the main value that the business offers, either operational excellence, such as Walmart, product excellence, such as Ford or customer relationships.

In Aron's experience, successful businesses generally excel at only one of these activities and the CIO needed to make sure the entire IT team understand how IT could support this value.

Along with ensuring everyone in IT understood the main value of the business, Aron recommended that CIOs address lack of soft skills in their teams, which would reduce the level of hands-on management required. "Building the right IT skills was one of the biggest issues for CIOs in the survey," he said.

When asked, IT staff normally say they work in IT, rather than saying that they work in retail, banking or another industry sector, Aron said. "This is not the case in other business departments, where a marketing person in retail would say they work in retail."

In his experience, companies can avoid this IT silo effect, by encouraging staff to work in other parts of the business, through work shadowing or short-term job swaps and reverse mentoring.

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