EDITOR'S DESK: Closing the performance gap

Wyatt Kash

If agency CIOs lament the big gap between the way their IT departments perform today and the way they'd like to see them perform, they're not alone.

A recent survey of CIOs at more than 400 Fortune 1000 and government or- ganizations worldwide found that 39 percent of their time is spent running and fixing applications; only 14 percent goes to building new, value-adding applications.

The imbalance gets worse among government CIOs: More than half of them said fixing existing applications consumes too much of their time. They want to do more. But they're being given about 30 percent more work and only about 5 to 10 percent more budget dollars, according to the study, released last month by Accenture.

The outcome is familiar: They're forced to maintain outmoded legacy systems instead of investing in new technologies'paradoxically leading to higher costs and lost productivity.

It's easy to assume the only way out of this trap is to spend more'or faster. But a closer look at how high-performing IT organizations invest compared to low performers suggests that management choices can make a big difference.

For instance, nearly half of high-performing IT organizations provide access to critical IT performance metrics. Among low-performing groups, just 3 percent offer comparable access. Another distinction: 85 percent of high-performing IT shops consider effective training programs important to their management of people, compared to 49 percent at low-performing shops.

High-performing IT groups also make recruiting a priority, tend to have higher technology adoption rates and generate nearly double the online interaction of low-performing groups.

The upshot: IT organizations'including government operations'that exercise best-IT-management practices also tend to have 40 percent more budgeted for building and integrating new systems than do low performers. That's worth considering next time agencies are asked to do more with less.

About the Author

Wyatt Kash served as chief editor of GCN (October 2004 to August 2010) and also of Defense Systems (January 2009 to August 2010). He currently serves as Content Director and Editor at Large of 1105 Media.

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