As a new CIO, you have earned your seat in the C-suite. Software development projects and digital transformation programmes are top of the agenda in your new role, whether taking the mantle of existing projects or designing and implementing new ones.
But where to start? This three-part blog series is your guide to navigating your way through software projects in your first 90 days, whether your background is strategic or hands-on software development.
Days 1-30: Your key objectives
Your first 30 days are crucial to making the right software development decisions. Use this time to get to know the business: Find out the status of existing software projects and lay foundations for new ones.
If you are tasked with designing and implementing new projects, securing the commitment of your C-suite peers and key stakeholders is essential. With buy-in from the right people, you can be sure you have the necessary backing to see your projects through to completion.
Defining the outcomes and benefits of the project for the business; agreeing on design principles and solution aims and understanding the capabilities required to succeed are also key priorities. Clarity on the “why’s’ and ‘how’s” will empower you to communicate your project to the wider organisation.
Finally, establishing project governance and reporting paths is vital to maximise the productivity of your software development team.
Not all new CIOs jump straight into a new project. In some organisations, a new CIO will be adopting existing software development projects, involving a different set of priorities. In this role, the first 30 days necessitates an understanding of the business outcomes and benefits of these existing projects, identifying development flows and project statuses, as well as evaluating the state of supporting IT. Understanding the state of play enables a seamless transition and an agile response to any issues.
Days 1-30: Your key actions
With key objectives identified, it’s time to set the wheels in motion. Following these steps ensures clarity on the cultural, structural and technical challenges unique to a new CIO.
Action #1 – Perform a stakeholder analysis
Undertaking a stakeholder analysis brings together information to define (or re-define) business outcomes for software development projects. It is also the key to building commitment among your key stakeholders. Look beyond just direct users and managers: New applications can impact numerous people, so immerse yourself in as many viewpoints as possible to establish processes and identify any gaps.
Action #2 – Assess project status and legacy
New CIOs are rarely presented with a well-documented, real-time view of backend, middleware and front-end applications across the organisation. Get up to speed fast: Set your team to work on a software, security, data and compliance audit while you track-and-trace additional information from the development team, IT team and wider organisation. This will put you in good stead to understand end-to-end IT operations and the state of existing or recently completed software projects.
Action #3 – Undertake a governance review
Ensuring your software development team are flexible, adaptive and contributing value is a key aspect of your role. Review static structures (responsibilities, authority and communication) alongside dynamic and measurement structures to ensure your team performance stays on track.
Action #4 – Appraise organisation and culture
Define the business’ expectations for software development. You may encounter mismatched bottom-line impact and “make our lives easier” outlooks, but setting priorities on these prior to defining project requirements is key. If your project is part of an enterprise-wide transformation project, prepare to create champions as you go, and in larger organisations clarifying how senior technologists work together will avoid you stepping on any toes. As well as senior colleagues now is a good time to get to know your software team, direct reports, and any departmental managers who may commission or deploy software.
Leverage your position as a new CIO to ask questions and develop relationships. Use your objective outlook to see across silos and identify any shadow IT issues.
We can help
At Amdaris, we specialise in delivering industry-leading software for our clients. With our experienced and proven methodology, we know what it takes for a CIO to deliver a successful project. If you’re looking for guidance in laying strong foundations for your software development project, we’d love to help: get in touch.