Organizations that encounter change due to the loss of an IT leader are often left in a state of flux. An Interim CIO can be an opportunity to quickly fill the role with someone experienced in the business with a playbook for re-mediating challenges. It is important during this period of time that organizations assess the root cause of the departure and work to correct any internal issues.
Choosing to bring an Interim CIO into a newly vacated position is a move that more organizations are making to ‘prepare the ground’ for the next permanent leader. The Interim CIO enters the organization without the baggage of history and can provide an independent assessment of the situation. They offer senior management an unbiased view of the situation and call attention to new ways for IT to add value.
Typically the Interim CIO will:
- Function as the Operational CIO – Keep the IT organization running and ensure resources are fully utilized while working to prevent staff flight and ensure business continuity.
- Conduct a Robust Set of IT Assessments – Provide independent audit, assessment, and bench-marking in many areas of IT including strategy, business alignment, organizational model, sourcing utilization, application portfolio, cloud utilization, service levels, planned projects, and spend levels.
- Build an IT Strategic Plan – Tackle the critical problem areas and take politically inexpedient positions where necessary to ensure IT supports the short and long-term business objectives. Lay the groundwork for a long term manager, make hard personnel decisions, develop a detailed implementation road-map, and establish professional management practices, policies and processes.
- Help Hire a Permanent CIO – Fine tune the perspectives and requirements for the next long term leader. The Interim CIO provides a clear view of the capabilities, experience, and culture/personality requirements for a successful permanent CIO. The Interim CIO will develop a profile in connection with top management, and play a significant role in the interview process to ensure a successful placement.
To be successful, the Interim CIO needs to be a deeply experienced executive with both IT and consulting skills to work in complex and sometimes difficult cultural environments. The critical outcome from an interim CIO assignment is the alignment of senior management’s understanding of the proper role for IT in the organization, and their commitment to ongoing collaboration with the future IT leader.
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