Harvard Business Review: 2 tips to help CIOs prevent unauthorized IT usage

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All too often, while a chief information officer is wholly focused on a massive, CEO-approved digital transformation project, other leaders will spearhead their own smaller "shadow" IT projects that the CIO cannot or will not approve.

These unauthorized projects may be smaller than the digital overhauls regularly taken on by C-level executives, but they are typically implemented to streamline and optimize a department-specific process and can thus bring great success to a company. CIOs should therefore shift their roles from owner and controller of all IT solutions to partner and coach for all leadership who may need to digitize their departments.

Here are two rules of thumb from the Harvard Business Review that will enable CIOs to keep control of their companies' technological goings-on while still encouraging innovation.

1. Determine what will make the organization best in class, then allow line-of-business leaders to decide which specific IT projects will help achieve that goal. To accomplish this, the CIO may need to split the IT team into one unit dedicated to organization-wide structural projects and another that manages department-specific innovation.

2. Remember that small projects can be just as valuable as large ones. Rather than attempting to incorporate a multi-year, one-size-fits-all solution tackling multiple issues at once, try adopting multiple hyper-specific IT solutions that can be implemented quickly, as issues arise, and are produced by vendors that are experts in that one issue.

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