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Staying Responsive to Your Organization’s Business Needs

Michael Nikitin

CTO & Co-founder AIDA, CEO Itirra

Published on March 1, 2019

On February 26, I had the pleasure of sharing my ideas with many extraordinary people at a fantastic discussion-based conference organized by NCS Madison. The CIO & CISO Strategy Meeting attracted leading IT and Security professionals from many industries.

I was most pleasantly surprised by a great turnout from representatives of government agencies. They brought welcome diversity to an event popular with healthcare, real estate, and IT thought leaders.

As opposed to a traditional conference, the group discussion yielded many thought-provoking ideas, which I would like to share with you.

Meaningful Communication

When asked what is the best way to understand a client’s business needs, the majority agreed that the more information we have, the better the solution can be. An expected logical answer.

What caught me off guard was the number of people willing to go the extra mile to create meaningful relationships with their clients. Some people in the room frequently fly out to meet business partners for in-person meetings. Others do their best to communicate as often as possible and stay connected even after their shared projects are concluded.

Effective communication not only allows to better understand a client’s needs but to adapt and implement new solutions much faster. Likewise, It does not come as a surprise that the best results come from informal meetings. When people are not under pressure, they are more willing to share their thoughts and creative ideas. And the best way to get there is to put some effort in.

The Right Approach

When it came to discussing how to respond to change, agile was the most commonly used approach. But despite its popularity and effectiveness, the agile approach was not always the best choice due to industry-specific limitations.

Government agencies representatives pointed out that all major decisions and adjustments have to be approved by the state or federal legislation. Some iterations and improvements would have to go through a lengthy approval process, nullifying the advantages of the agile approach.

Medical professionals face a similar challenge. Considering HIPAA as well as other security and privacy requirements, every iterative sprint would have to be checked against complex regulations.

As business insiders have pointed out, simply adopting agile would be inefficient. In the government and healthcare industries, the so-called hybrid approach is far more effective. Using the waterfall method for budget planning and agile for execution can save both time and money.

Effective Resource Allocation

Another interesting discussion was on the problem of resource allocation. Business size, structure, and objectives turned out to be pivotal factors when deciding on the type of flexible resourcing to use. Interestingly, most professionals in the room agreed that the costs of onboarding FTE’s ran high.

The advantage of keeping knowledge and experience within the company is more often than not outweighed by the time taken to train new hires. A lot of businesses risk not employing talent for fast returns from responsive vendors and consultants.

The choice to supplement FTE teams with SaaS products led to another great discussion. Despite their cost-effectiveness and fast implementation, SaaS solutions are quite complex and entail meticulous and expensive customization, especially for mid and large size companies. Similarly, organizations in highly regulated sectors like government and healthcare would have to invest much more to meet their strict privacy and security requirements.

Share Your Ideas

“We owe almost all our knowledge not to those who have agreed, but to those who have differed”

Charles Caleb Colton

While that statement is now 200 years ago old, it continues to ring true. Discussing ideas and experiences with a diverse group of experts at events like the CIO & CISO Strategy Meeting is truly an enlightening experience.