New CIO Starter Guide (Toolkit)

Embarking in the role of a new CIO or taking a position as the CIO at a new organization can be an exciting and stressful process. While there are likely many steps that you want to take to dive headfirst into the position, there are few aspects you should keep in mind throughout your first few months as a CIO for the best experience. Finding adequate levels of success in the first 60 days may seem challenging, however, it is essential for ensuring you are on the right path in your new position. 

Getting off to a Great Start 

In many cases, the first 60 days as a CIO can be broken down into two distinct phases that may occur in succession or simultaneously: orientation and reconnaissance. After these are completed, the next two phases are vision and planning. To help make this process a little smoother, we will cover what to expect with each phase and provide some tips to help ease the process for both first time CIOs or CIOs that want to make an impact in a new organization. 

Orientation and Reconnaissance 

The first 30 days in a CIO position will generally consist of integrating into the new company. When arriving, a CIO needs to remain friendly and set the tone for what employees are to expect. In some cases, this position may have been vacant for an extended period and employees within the organization and in management will be ecstatic that it has been filled. Unfortunately, this means it is up to the new CIO to make a good impression and set the tone and expectations with their personality and engagement with others within the organization.  

  • Orientation – During the orientation phase, a new CIO must become familiar with the purpose and expectations associated with his or her new role. Many businesses have developed their own unique orientation process, and this could vary widely. From paperwork to reviewing the employee handbook, CIOs should be prepared to complete it within the first 30 days. 
  • Reconnaissance – Either during orientation or immediately following it, a CIO will need to explore a few different key aspects of the new work environment. This includes learning who is the real boss of the CIO, the employees that will be working under the CIO, and the current state of technology the CIO will be working with. An early indication of these things can help mold the next steps and determine what challenges, if any, will need to be overcome. 

Vision and Planning 

After the first 30 days, a new CIO will likely have a good understanding of the organization they are working in and any technical limitations that may be present. While some preconceptions of the organization may have changed, this is the time to prepare for the next 30 days and begin making a positive impact. During this time, creating a vision that makes a positive impact on the organization and inspires your team will help ensure that the CIO’s personal goals and the goals of the organization are met. 

  • Vision – Establishing and demonstrating leadership as a new CIO means creating and declaring a new department mission. Most technical teams like to ensure they are working toward a common goal and creating a strong mission can help “rally the troops” and bring new purpose to the department. Once a mission is established, a CIO should be able to explain why it is important and how employees should use their skills to meet the goals it outlines. 
  • Planning – With a new mission in place, the CIO should create a plan to ensure that the department and organization can meet the goals it establishes. It is important to understand that this mission doesn’t need to be permanent and will likely remain flexible for as many as 3 years. Once goals are reached or new opportunities are pinpointed, the mission should change to reflect that. 

Achieving success in the first 60 days as a new CIO can determine the route taken in the position in the immediate future. With these steps in mind, anyone should be able to navigate the first 60 days with relative ease and create a positive foundation at a new organization. By taking the time to complete these “pit stops”, a new CIO is more likely to create a positive impact and establish new growth as a technology leader.

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