Negotiating skills may not be on the top line of most IT professionals' resumes, but according to two leading CIOs, having that kind of savvy can go a long way toward improving your company's computing performance. Learning to negotiate well, with both internal customers and external suppliers was just one of the lessons imparted during a how-to panel discussion Tuesday at the Comnet show in Washington. Amtrak CIO Bob Gayley and David Swartz, CIO for information systems and services at The George Washington University, also told attendees that understanding overall business needs and establishing a clear way to measure IT performance are additional keys to a successful IS strategy.
According to Gayley, building a winning IT organization starts with "understanding your business peers, and what they are trying to accomplish. You've got to get involved with them, to understand the demands" of the overall business.
Once the demands are clear, Swartz said, it's important to establish metrics that measure the hows and whys of IT performance, so that internal customers understand why IT can't always do everything they ask.
"One of our biggest challenges is meeting expectations," Swartz said. That's why inside the university, his department creates service-level agreements with its different constituent groups. Such internal contracts, he said, "help people understand that it takes money to deliver IT."
Tuesday's news of the MyDoom virus spread was old hat to the two CIOs, who said that dealing with external issues is a prime concern for all businesses.