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Business Analyst Tip: CIOs are People, Too

Like most of us, I’m working in an environment where there is too much to do and not enough people to do it. We recently received a request for a new project which didn’t make sense to me—it would only be used short-term and the need met by the project was already satisfied. So, I reached out to the PMO asking if the project was really the right priority for us to work on. The answer “The CIO wants it. He knows it is going to be additional work.  We need to do it.”  I asked the business why the needed this. The answer “We don’t, we’re just accommodating an IT request.”  Huh?

I was still concerned that this was not the right thing to do, so I reached up through my management team to check on this. My manager went to the CIO and had a blunt conversation “You know, this will be throw-away work and there is already a way to do this. Are you sure you want to do this?”  His response was “Heck no”.

My next step would have been estimating the cost of what we were doing and trying to find out if there was any benefit, as I hadn’t identified any yet. But, it turned out to be unnecessary.

There are two lessons from this:

  1. Be persistent. Unfortunately, there were many people who were ready to just do the project without asking the questions.
  2. CIOs are people, too. Throughout my career, I’ve see CIOs and other executives treated as all-knowing. No one questions them. No one gives them information unless they ask for it. I think part of our job is making sure they have all of the information they need to make good decisions. Expecting them to be infallible is just unfair. So, when appropriate, ask.  And, ask appropriately.  In this case, I went through my manager.  Maybe we’ll learn something by asking (find out there really is a benefit). Maybe they’ll say “Thanks, I didn’t realize that”. Or, maybe they’ll say “Just do it”. In the end, it is their call. And, it’s our job to support them both before and after they make the call.

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