A CIO’s gift guide for IT and business colleagues

Welcome to the holiday season. Sure, I know the holiday season’s true start date is sometime in September, but I didn’t want to hurt Halloween’s and Thanksgiving’s feelings. Which is why I’ve refused to start my shopping until after the last of the turkey leftovers and Kit Kat Bars are gone.

Once upon a time I delayed my holiday shopping until the middle of December for a more practical reason: procrastination. I just like to think I was ahead of my time by being behind in my shopping.

But it’s December now. The time for procrastination has passed. Here’s your CIO holiday season shopping list for your IT and business colleagues, as well as your loved ones (and even yourself):

For the Head of App Dev: A methodology that’s designed for the work App Dev actually does, which isn’t developing applications. No, App Dev is more often responsible for configuring and integrating COTS (on-premises-installed commercial off-the-shelf software) and SaaS (cloud-hosted commercial off-the-shelf software) solutions.

The usual candidates are Scrum, Kanban, and Lean Development. The right candidate is Conference Room Pilot. It’s good so far as it goes, which is to configure a new package so that it supports users’ desired business processes. But that still leaves developers high and dry when the time comes to design and implement the robust set of ESB connectors they’ll need to keep the integration process manageable.

You’ll have to do some shopping, and probably some head-scratching to get that piece of the puzzle. Hint: It starts with SOA.

For the Head of IT Operations: A full-tilt automated, accurate, and correct regression and integration test suite. Yes, the gift goes to App Dev, not Ops. But that’s okay. An automated test suite everyone can rely on to make sure app changes don’t crash PROD might be used by App Dev but Ops gets most of the benefit.

For your company’s Executive Leadership Team: A magic wand you can wave so they understand why improvements to and remediation of Architecture — that’s both business and technical architecture — are legitimate rationales for approving action.

For your IT Service Desk: Several barrels of empathy along with a few dozen demijohns of patience, to be shared as necessary with both end-users and service desk analysts whenever a frustrating incident risks boiling over and becoming personal.

For your SINOs (sponsors in name only): A lump of anthracite. A SINO is the business executive or manager who is the sponsor of record for a project but feels intensely apathetic regarding its successful completion.

SINO-hood isn’t necessarily the SINO’s fault. Sometimes, a manager’s boss assigns or volunteers someone to serve as a project’s sponsor should an otherwise promising project proposal lack one. Should that be the case for a project, the SINO’s manager gets a chunk of bituminous.

For your business sponsors — real ones, who understand the nature of their role: A ceremonial deep-dish pizza, served at the completion celebration of the successful project they sponsored. They deserve it, because most projects need their sponsor to stick their necks out a few times to resolve the sticky situations that project managers lack the authority and influence to address.

For your project managers: A career path. Some companies still treat project management as a trial role for employees with managerial promise. The result is that, when a project is successful, the project manager is promoted to a “real” management job, thereby ensuring the company never builds a cadre of competent and experienced project managers, pretty much guaranteeing a high project failure rate.

For your loved ones: A healthy supply of Maxalt, to help them get over the migraines you induce by sharing your professional trials and tribulations with them.

Or else, better, keep both the conversation and the Maxalt for yourself. This only makes sense, as stifling your desire to share is likely to give you the migraines you’re sparing your friends and family.

For yourself: A daily dose of perspective, to get you past your daily annoyances so you remember that in the end your chosen profession lets you play with a lot of cool toys — either personally or vicariously — that someone else gets to pay for.

To all of you CIO Survivors: A happy Hanukkah, St. Nick’s Day, Winter Solstice, Diwali, Christmas, Sir Isaac Newton’s birthday, Boxing Day, Kwanzaa, New Years Day, Perihelion, Isra & Mi’raj, or whatever seasonal holiday you celebrate that I somehow managed to miss.

See you in 2023.

Business IT Alignment, IT Leadership, Software Development