Project Management Institute

Speak Their Language

Project Leaders Must Bridge The Gap Between The CIO And The Delivery Team



By Marat Oyvetsky, PMP

Traditional project management is concerned with cost, schedule and scope. When communicating with CIOs, however, the focus can dramatically shift to more strategic concerns. Savvy project leaders know how to rise above traditional project management concerns to provide value to the C-suite. In my experience, there are chiefly two ways they can differentiate: Master the art of brevity, and always link IT projects to the business's long-term goals.

Information needs to be compressed while still giving the full picture.

Make Less More

Traditional project communication generally involves notes, status reports and project plans. These tools are essential to project managers to communicate status, health, timeline, issues/risks and project updates. However, when working with the office of the CIO, communication needs to get tighter: Information needs to be compressed while still giving the full picture. It needs to be delivered in a concentrated format that is consumable to the technical executive.

If designed correctly, project scorecards can provide CIOs just the right amount of information to give an effective project update without inundating them with unnecessary details. The scorecard needs to be presented in a standard one-page format that is both easy to review and update on a weekly basis. It should contain the following information:

  1. Project name
  2. Milestone timeline (baseline/current/completed)
  3. Results and commitments
  4. Issues/risks
  5. Budget

This type of presentation can provide CIOs with vital project updates without delving into large-scale project plans or multipage status reports.

Draw a Map

Every major journey requires a map. A company's digital transformation is no exception—yet many companies fail to link their long-term business initiatives to IT projects and goals. This creates a disconnect within the business: A CIO might be on a journey to a strategic digital destination while specific IT projects might be heading toward a different place.

To avoid this, project leaders should work with CIOs to map out the company's business initiatives and IT projects, creating links between both. This exercise accomplishes two things.

  1. It provides executives with timelines for achieving a company's strategic business initiatives based on the IT projects the company is completing.
  2. It allows executives to communicate the company's timelines of its business initiatives and goals to the rest of the business and set expectations across the company.

As more companies embark on digital transformations, more CIOs are realizing that their business has a symbiotic relationship with project leadership. By sharpening communication between C-level executives and project leaders and crafting the proper roadmap to link the business to IT, project leaders can be strategic leaders who drive digital transformation through their entire organization. PM

img Marat Oyvetsky, PMP, is program director at Evotek, San Diego, California, USA.
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