New IT Director To Do list

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Career Development
I am starting a new role as IT Director of a small service company with 3 corporate locations and about 50 franchises across the US. Franchise support is limited to one hosted web and one distributed Access application. The primary responsibilites are for support of internal customers, standardization of technologies and policies, and for providing a vision for the future. I am wondering if anyone has suggested checklists, approaches, or even tools for sizing up the needs of the organization and prioritizing actions. I am also to provide a IT 'business plan' in 6-8 weeks, any suggested templates? TIA

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TIA,

I would suggest that you begin by having an indepth meeting at each of your three corporate locations, soliciting the needs, as seen by the personnel at those locations, so that you can begin to formulate your business plan. The folks at the “front line” typically know what the problems are as well as the needs, from an IT perspective, and can provide invaluable insight. I would couple that with what management is telling you about where they want to go as a company. Lastly, I would spend some time with your hardware and network vendors to see what they feel is a prudent course of action. They will normally be able to come in and assess the usage from their perspective and let you know what you will need to do to accomplish your management’s aniticipated growth.

The combined input will tell you what needs to be addressed, what needs to be planned for (such as a predetermined 15% growth, etc.) and then you can use that to determine the capabilities of your network, system(s), personnel, etc.

The 6 to 8 weeks to put together a complete business plan is pretty aggressive since it sounds like you are new to the organization and to this level of position. I would suggest that you ask for an additional 6 to 8 weeks so that you can look at all sources of input before making and presenting your plan. The last thing you want to have happen is put together a plan that leaves out some very serious problems that you’ve not even been made aware of yet. That would leave you looking and feeling inept at best. Take your time, solicit all the input you can from management, supervisors and workers before presenting your plan. It’s better to take a little longer and present a realistic plan than it is to present a plan that is “off the wall” in a very short period of time.

Good luck with your new adventure.
RLE

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  • Onamission
    Think of the tasks ahead of you as Inventory and Assessment. Perform this in the following areas, Hardware, Infrastructure, Personnel, Budget and Political. Inventory your critical servers, desktops, and printers and assess there overall condition. Inventory your LAN/WAN Infrastructure including switches, routers, current bandwidth and your current vendor. Are they capable of supporting your initiatives at a reasonable cost? Inventory your people, there current work load, skillsets and physical location. Are they capable of taking you where you need to go? Inventory your budget if you have one. If you do, find out what was allocated where, in the past, this will be your financial benchmark. If your lucky, they've never had a formal IT budget. In this case sit down with the Controller or CFO and discuss realistic budget expectations. Every company has a financial limit, find it. And finally assess the political atmosphere. Find out who your supporters are and who you can depend on for assistance, especially when it comes to rolling out something new and different. Find out what there expectations are. All of these areas will give you the information you need to put together a business plan in a reasonably short period of time. You cannot fix everything at once so prioritize these areas based on your assessment. Once you have this information you will be able to see where you need to improve, how much you will be allowed to spend and most importantly, how much support you'll receive from your counterparts.
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  • Jmccart
    TIA, I would agree with the content of the answers you've received so far. Listening to the "users" and understanding your political and technical infrastructure are both important steps in evaluating your future steps. You didn't mention the size of your staff but one of the first things I would do is to have one-on-one meetings with them all to discover their goals and to gain some insight into any pre-existing problems that might be lurking. This is also a good way to identify those of your staff who could help you to establish credibility in your new position. Listen, repeat back what you heard and don't be afraid to ask questions. Career success can be damaged by mis-understanding and assumption. Good luck JM
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  • Infossh
    You have gotten great recommendations from the other respondants. I would only add to it to be careful to not jump quickly into solving problems before you've completed your assessment. This can be especially difficult in problem areas that you have seen before and/or where you have special expertise. Allow yourself the time and freedom to do a complete assessment and then to prioritize the needs and desires of your constituency.
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  • CRE8IVEsolutions
    Tia, some good sources I frequently reference for models, templates and processes, particularly for IT security include NIST, ISACA, and ITIL. Their webistes are: http://www.itil-itsm-world.com/ www.isaca.org/cobit.htm (COBIT is used for Sarbanes complinace assessment but is good reference for private companies too) http://csrc.nist.gov/publications/nistpubs/(these apply to government IT programs but have solid processes you can adopt in private sector)
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  • Getmygto
    Thank you all for your sage advice. The Director level is new to me as will be taking a more strategic approach to IT management. I have managed in the trenches so this is my chance to try to avoid the mistakes I've seen and build quality solutions. To answer one question, currently I have a staff of 2 with consultants as backup. I anticipate needing network, hardware, application, and customer service specialists. I believe strongly in cross-training so multiple interest will be a requirements of any new hires. The hard part will be keeping my own head up. I could still use a template for that Business Plan... anyone? Thanks In Advance, Rod
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  • DrillO
    Hi TIA Sorry, can't help with the template, but in addition to all of the sage advice you've had so far, I would add that it sounds as though this approach is new to the company as well. If that is the case, you really need to sit down with management and find out what they know and what they THINK they know. Be diplomatic but firm......don't be afraid to say that soemthing can't be done as is oir that some idea is not quite right. Make surte they buy into the business plan completely and on paper. Last, don't be willing to bury yourself or your staff......these things take time....let it. Nothing is worse than working to an over agressive plan. Good luck Paul
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  • Hipcheck
    I don't really disagree with the responses so far, but for a meaningful plan in 6 weeks with you new in the position and new to the company, I would recommend you hire an IT management consultant. Experience is worth it. The situation you describe, the right consultant will be able to produce something in about a 3 to 4 week engagement, have templates, ROI (return on investment) data , etc. etc. The work product would be something that you can hang your hat on, instead of something that becomes "what we threw together when I first got here". I would hope your management would see the value in this approach rather than asking for an additional 8 weeks. Note that I said 'IT management consultant' NOT 'contractor developer'. ~ M
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  • Cglancy
    Rod/TIA, I did a search for 'Business Plan' here in ITKnowledge Exchange and came up with several links that appear to be what you're looking for. http://www.businessplans.org/businessplans.html http://www.bplans.com/sp/ http://www.bplans.com/samples/index.cfm?Affiliate=mbus I also did a search at www.Gantthead.com and found free sample business plans as well as informational articles. (You may need to register to access) www.tenstep.com is another good site for project plans and since your tasks can be approached as a project why not use PM tools to accomplish it? btw -- I agree that hiring an experienced Management consultant would be $ well spent. Hope this helps. Constance
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  • Dougiesr
    I am impressed with the responses received! I work directly for a new CTO which I have observed the exact philosophy. I hope one day too be a CTO. Good luck in your endeavors!
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