Let’s start 2013 by considering how the CIO function can deliver new solutions to your enterprise when as much as 80 percent of the IT budget goes to just keeping the lights on, maintaining your current systems. With market conditions forcing increased cost cutting, and a distinct trend to place more of the technology decision making and buying power in the hands of the business, the mystery of successful delivery is getting harder for the CIO to solve. 

Those who follow my CMSWire article series will not be surprised to discover that for me the clues all lead to adaptive case management as the solution.  

My proof includes the story of one CIO, the CIO of the Courts of Puerto Rico Administration, who managed to “crack the case” using case management to cost-effectively provide new services.

The CIO and the C-Suite Challenge

What makes a successful CIO? Some would say this is a trick question, that there is no such thing as a successful CIO, that in fact the "I" in CIO stands for Irrelevant. There are certainly a lot of obstacles in the way of success.

First, there is the issue of strategy oversight. While the CIO is held responsible for aligning IT with enterprise business priorities, authority doesn’t always accompany responsibility. The CIO is the enterprise’s top technology manager but in the most recent Society for Information Management survey, only 43 percent of the responding CIOs report directly to the CEO. And, according to the Economist Group’s, “The C-Suite Challenges IT: New Expectations for Business Value,” almost 20 percent of CIOs actually have no role in setting IT strategy.

Technology spend decisions are also a challenge. IDC just predicted that 58 percent of new IT investments this year will directly involve the Line of Business in the decision making, and 25 percent of these will have an LOB exec as a key decision maker. Gartner is predicting a massive shift in budgets for the future, resulting in businesses groups controlling as much as 90 percent of technology spend.

If these challenges aren’t difficult enough, then consider that the very existence and relevance of the CIO role is constantly under fire. As one CIO.com article on the Future of the CIO proclaims, “For almost as long as there have been CIOs, we've heard breathless speculation about whether the position will last, and if so, in what form.”

Time works against the CIO. The average tenure of a CIO is only about 5 years – a short window in which to make meaningful contributions to the business. No wonder then that creating value for the enterprise is such a mysterious undertaking. Of course cynics would say there is clear formula to solving the mystery: the first year is spent creating the plan, the second year is for selecting new technology and prioritizing the projects, the third year is for beginning the implementation, and the fourth year is to be spent finding the next job to move to in the coming year. I’m not that cynical! In fact, I see ample evidence of truly successful CIOs helping to transform their enterprises. How are they doing this?

How Means, Motive and Opportunity Help Solve the CIO Challenge

The CEB in their CIO survey for 2013 found that CIO priorities for the next twelve months show strong urgency around reshaping how IT creates value and how it is governed. Of course, I have a technology and solution approach in mind here. [Cue the suspenseful mystery music in the background and then play the big reveal sound.] I see adaptive case management as one of the most effective ways for CIOs to meet the challenge of creating value because it helps in 3 critical areas.

First, the means to accomplishing IT value creation will require a smart combination of technology and change management. I’ve frequently shared my views on how case management tackles the most difficult aspects of delivering new value to the organization by ensuring that people adopt the new solution.

Value creation will also require the CIO to identify and communicate shared objectives with enterprise owners. It needs to be clear that the motive for implementing new solutions is tied to business strategy and results and the ability to innovate.

And finally to be successful in creating value, the CIO will have to work quickly to leverage a short window of opportunity. The current environment has zero tolerance for long projects with delayed ROI.

While complete roll outs reasonably require a multi-year approach, the key is to deliver value in each phase. This means, as I explored in an earlier CMSWire article on "The Best Way to Improve Business Performance," that the methodology surrounding the implementation is as important as the technology itself.

CIO Best Practice, Courts of Puerto Rico

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One interesting example of a CIO leveraging case management as a best practice is Office of the Courts Administration CIO of Puerto Rico.

The courts office is responsible for operating Puerto Rico’s network of courts, and coordinating the work of 338 judges and 14,000 lawyers, on 350,000 cases per year. Their goal was to implement a common case management system and approach to manage criminal cases across all 13 regions of Puerto Rico. The aim and the result of the implementation were not just to cut costs of delivery but also to revitalize the ability to improve through “the intelligent application of IT.”

The implementation case study and the CIO were profiled late last year by MWD Advisor’s Neil Ward-Dutton who examined their implementation of case management technology and techniques. As an independent advisory firm, MWD writes case studies reports to illustrate best practices, specifically reports that are

designed to help organisations considering or actively working with Business Process Management technology understand how others have worked to obtain benefits from BPM implementation, and how they have worked to overcome challenges that have arisen along the way.”

The lessons learned with this case study illustrate key elements along a path to successful cost-effective implementations, including an emphasis on a common language, collaboration and organizational change management.

As MWD explains, there was heavy involvement from the “line of business” for the CIO. In order to proceed with the solution, the CIO had to convince both Puerto Rico’s Chief Justice and the Courts Administrator.

They were convinced principally through understanding the value of the iterative approach to development and ongoing change management that would be possible, facilitating ‘implementation by approximation’, rather than monolithic delivery cycles and abrupt handovers. The key convincing point was how the toolset would enable a common language to be shared between the IT development contractors and internal subject-matter experts.”

Further, the CIO and his team emphasized to all stakeholders that the solution is focused on collaborative working practices. Perhaps most impressive is that as MWD reports “Along the way, the organization is changing the way it conducts change projects.”

Challenge Accepted, Mystery Solved

The Courts of Puerto Rico is just one example of the strengths that case management can bring to help CIOs successfully meet the challenge of delivering new services.

I like how one of the current CIO.com Hall of Famers, Steve Rubinow, former CIO of NYSE Euronext and current CIO of FX Alliance, explains a not so mysterious path to success:

“It is the ability to handle, and spark, major business shifts that determines a CIO's effectiveness.”

As I see the continuing challenges CIOs will face both in the public and the private sector, my conclusion is that successful CIOs will leverage case management because it can enable them to:

  • Align with their “line of business” objectives
  • Implement iterative results in 6-18 months
  • Respond to the shifting business needs and regulatory climate
  • And, inevitably, deliver valuable new services to the enterprise and their customers.

Case closed.

Image courtesy of Kuzma (Shutterstock)

Editor's Note: If you didn't notice, Deb is an authority on all things adaptive case management. To get more of her insights, read The Past, Present and Future of Case Management