CIOs Discuss Prioritizing Projects by Business Value

Mike HarrisLast week I had the pleasure of speaking at The CIO and IT Security Forum in Miami. I also spoke at a CIO Forum this past fall. At these events, my presentations are delivered to small groups of CIOs/CISOs intentionally to allow an interactive and intimate dialogue. That said, I had about 35 people split across two presentations last week. My goal for these presentations is to offer ideas for using software business value to prioritize development projects at the strategic and tactical levels, to provide practical examples, and, above all, to evangelize to try to get more companies doing this stuff – visualizing the business value of their software development efforts.

The attendees were very engaged in this topic. Most of their interest was focused on using cost of delay and weighted shortest job first approaches to prioritize projects. In the first session, the audience requested I go through the calculations in detail, so I incorporated that into the second presentation and again got a positive response. There was something of an “aha” moment in both sessions as they realized that coming up with relative business value for prioritization purposes is actually a practical proposition.

In the first session, we had a substantial group of CISOs, and we talked about where information security investments fit in the business value of software – a particular piece of software development could result in a reduction of risk, but all software development has the potential to add risk of a vulnerability if security is ignored or is simply paid lip service. 

Of the 35 or so participants, just two claimed to attempt to prioritize by business value. They were able to describe their approaches to the other participants. This is one of the great things about CIO Forum events – participants learn as much from their peers as they do from the presenters, and I always try to encourage this interchange during my sessions.

Do you prioritize your software development initiatives by business value? If not, what criteria do you use to prioritize your projects?  If you’d like to learn more about focusing on software business value to prioritize your efforts, click here for white papers, additional blogs, and webinars on the topic.

Mike Harris


Written by Michael D. Harris at 05:00

Why Everyone Should Care About Software Value?

Michael D. HarrisIn the majority of organizations today, it would seem that those most involved in a project (of any kind) would be the ones that care the most about its value. In the case of software development initiatives, the development teams and development managers are entrenched in the day-to-day. However, they are so focused on meeting deadlines, remaining within budget and maximizing utilization, software value is often not even on their radar. Yes, they should care about it, but the other factors tend to shift their priorities.

So, if they aren’t focusing on software value, who is? Should it be the CIO’s responsibility? Should the heads of the business units who are driving the requirements for projects be overseeing them to ensure maximum flow of the software’s value? In a perfect world, it should be both IT management and the business units working together to determine the business value of the software, develop goals, communicate those goals, and to measure against those goals to maximize value throughout the development effort.

It doesn’t stop with IT and the business units. Executives, and, yes, even the board, should care about maximizing software asset value and the flow of software value. If the software asset pool is not continually enhanced with new software, its value will decrease. If any aspect of an organization is declining in value, the upper echelon should care!

If the business value of software is realized and communicated from the top down in an organization to those who can impact the flow of the software value on a daily basis, more educated tactical decisions can be made to maximize the value. Therefore, everyone can play an important part and should care about the business value of software.

What do you think? Should software value be on the minds of the IT team, business units, as well as the c-level?

Mike Harris
DCG President & CEO


Written by Michael D. Harris at 05:00
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Michael D. Harris to Present at ITFMA's 2015 Financial World of IT Conference


Interested in IT financial management? Then don't miss this year's IT Financial Management Association (ITFMA) conference in Pittsburgh, April 13-17. The Financial World of IT conference is a must-attend event for those interested in improving their IT financial management capabilities.

Mike Harris will be presenting this year, urging businesses to utilize a "show me the money" approach to software development.

His presentation, "Using Lean Principles to Prioritize and Track Financial Value in Software Development" is part of the "IT Chargeback, Showback and Expense Management" conference agenda. He will share simple techniques for optimizing the flow of economic value and bringing economic value metrics into the tactical decision-making of the software development process. Be there on Friday, April 17th at 10:30am to listen in!

For more information and to download Mr. Harris’ latest presentations, visit

Written by Default at 05:00
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Corporate Executives Focus on IT's Shortcomings

MikeI read an article in Baseline that is worth sharing, “Corporate Executives Focus on IT Shortcomings.” The article indicates that management is finally paying attention to the fact that IT can, in fact, contribute to strategic business objectives. But the increased attention is just resulting in increased pressure on IT (and some unrealistic expectations).

A recent McKinsey Global Survey, IT Under Pressure, outlines some of the ways in which corporate thinks IT should improve – and how it should go about making those improvements.

Some of what I consider to be the most interesting responses are below:

  • 48% of the respondents expect the IT team to improve the cost of efficiency of business processes, compared with 45% in 2011.
  • 31% of the respondents want the tech department to reduce IT costs.
  • 37% of the respondents believe that IT helps the business enter new markets – down from 57% in 2011.
  • 45% of the respondents believe that IT should improve its business-focused accountability for IT projects.

There are a number of other interesting responses, so it’s worth giving the article some time. 

Managing the relationship between the business and IT definitely isn’t easy. While it’s certainly nice that the business is (finally) paying attention to IT, it can lead to some difficult expectations. IT can – and should – contribute to the business, and this is something that we can help with. We offer a number of Business Value of IT services that help the business and IT to open the lines of communication and establish shared expectations and goals, setting the path for a successful, long-term relationship that benefits both parties.

Mike Harris
DCG President

Written by Michael D. Harris at 05:00
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14th Annual State of the CIO

As a software development consulting company, we always have great interest in CIO magazine’s annual “State of the CIO” survey (previous years are here and here).

The overarching theme of this year’s survey results is the glaring gap in what business colleagues want from IT (based on a survey of 304 non-IT business decision makers) versus what CIOs think they are providing (based on a survey of 558 IT leaders). Interestingly, we talk about this topic a lot here at DCG as we work to help IT appropriately showcase its value to the business and to foster improved communication between the business and IT. But while we’re aware of the gap, many organizations we work with are not.

Some of the differences in points of view outlined in the survey results were:

  • Business leaders (54%) see IT as an obstacle to getting things done – versus 33% of CIOs
  • Business leaders (59%) see CIOs becoming cloud wranglers – versus 49% of CIOs
  • Business leaders largely do not believe a “quick win” is an effective tactic for a CIO (69%) – versus 49% of CIOs
  • Business leaders (21%) believe it’s important for IT staff to call on external customers – versus 9% of CIOs
  • Business leaders (30%) believe a focus on customers is important in elevating the IT-business relationship – versus 16% of CIOs

Part of the reason for the this divide is, of course, the changing role of the CIO, as the responsibilities of the position are breaking off into new positions, such as Chief Data Officer or Chief Transformation Officer. But, regardless of the reason, the survey results clearly outline the fact that the divide between the CIO and the business is causing problems. It’s making life more difficult for the CIO, who doesn’t seem to understand how he or she is perceived and what he or she needs to do to make necessary changes that impact the business, but it’s also making life more difficult for the business, who doesn’t understand the value that the CIO can – and should – provide.

Obviously, we can help with that. But I’m also interested in what other people think – those below the CIO in IT, as well as those below the business leaders. Care to share? Leave a comment below.

Of course, the survey also shares results about the CIO salary, its priorities and more. Check out the results to find out more.

Mike Harris
DCG President

Written by Michael D. Harris at 05:00
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"It's frustrating that there are so many failed software projects when I know from personal experience that it's possible to do so much better - and we can help." 
- Mike Harris, DCG Owner

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