Sunday, September 7, 2014

What is a CIO?

I needed to develop a clear definition of my job as CIO to a new boss recently. Initially my plan was to do a quick check of the internet, look for a good definition and pass it on. Wow - was I disappointed! 

After having been a CIO for over a decade, I could not find a decent description of the job. I realized I had to put the effort into writing what I thought was a realistic description of role. So here it is:

The role of a CIO is to create, implement, and sustain an information systems vision for the organization. Implementation of the vision requires integration of the people, processes, data, and technologies from across the organization needed to deliver information systems. Success is measured by realizing the benefits and controlling the risks of information systems throughout the organization by managing value, volume, and quality.

To accomplish this role, the CIO needs to be allocated certain non-negotiable responsibilities including:

  • Strategy and planning for the future of information systems in the organization,
  • Stewardship (governance) of information systems decision-making processes,
  • Investment portfolio management of information systems projects, 
  • Organization structure required to support information systems,
  • Ethics and principles needed to create acceptable information systems standards,
  • Leadership of ICT directly, and other IT units indirectly,
  • Information systems policies, principles, and procedures,
  • Quality of operational systems, and
  • Adapting the organization to the inevitability of process and technology induced change.

No discussion of the CIO's role is complete without outlining the scope of the role. In any organization the CIO mandate includes all information systems at the organization, not just the central information systems department. The CIO creates the information systems context needed to deliver the clients’ content, which encompasses all aspects of all information systems used in any dimension of the organization.

To deliver on the role and scope that I have defined, a CIO's mandate must include certain core functions:

  • Develop and sustain all information systems supporting the organization's core mission,
  • Implement any new system software, continuously improve production application systems, and provide organization-wide data stewardship to enable the business needs of the university,
  • Design and manage an enterprise architecture mapping all the technologies, applications, and data for present and future systems at the organization,
  • Create, enhance, and support the technical infrastructure of the organization,
  • Ensure the privacy, security, and legislative compliance of information assets are diligently and proactively protected,
  • Implement project management tools and skills to ensure consistent delivery of information systems investments (projects) on time, in scope, and within budget, and
  • Continuously improve operational processes needed to support and run information systems.

Hopefully this short description helps anyone else trying to do the same search I attempted. 


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