The Relationship Intergration Officer
The champion RIOs
Nothing beats real-life experience to illustrate how RIOs
operate. Vinita Gupta talks to four successful CIOs for their take on
Its great to theorise, but more effective to use successful
examples. This is why Network Magazine decided to get real-life lessons from
some of the masters themselves.
this search, the first essential parameter was to obtain inputs from CIOs who
face unique challenges when it comes to professional relationships. The selection
was narrowed down to Kalyan-Dombivli Municipal Corporation (KDMC), Garware Polyester,
Centurion Bank of Punjab, and Patni.
Each RIOs case holds different relationship integration challenges as
we shall see shortly. KDMCs Subhash Patil has the challenge of dealing
with both common people who are the organisations end-users as well as
government officials. Garware Polyesters Ajit Inamdar plays the dual role
of a CFO and a CIO, which makes his relationship networks much more varied.
In the case of Sanjay Narkar from Centurion Bank of Punjab, he has to deal with
relationships of the new entity formed after the merger of Centurion Bank and
Bank of Punjab. On the other hand, Vinod Sadavarte of Patni brings the software
industry CIOs take on relationship integration to the RIO table.
Over the following pages we will see how these CIOs have managed to maintain
the relationship nets that are all-important to their organisational success.
We at Network Magazine hope that these lessons are useful to your RIO quest
as a CIO.
KDMC: IT in governance
Patil, Systems Manager, Kalyan-Dombivli Municipal Corporation, talks about
the changing roles of a technology officer in a government organisation
In a government body, the CIOs role is very different. We do not have
procedures or guidelines to maintain professional relationships. If we need
to acquire systems or decide on an application, I am the single point of contact.
This makes it very important for me to maintain relationships with vendors,
my team, and customers. A successful relationship integrator is one who can
understand the expectations of various stakeholders such as citizens, department
staff and top management. If I can service them to the best of their expectations,
I am good at my work.
I had a very peculiar initiation. Since KDMC is a government body. vendors were
very apprehensive about working with us because funding takes a lot of time
and then there is a lengthy bureaucratic process. Sometimes I had to take them
to my commissioner to convey our seriousness regarding the project. However,
we were successful in changing their perceptions and getting their support.
Over time, we have followed a very professional relationship
with our vendors by having clear SLAs. In case there is a problem, our staff
tries to solve it, but if they cannot, then the vendors have to support us.
Listen Before Deciding
Though the CIOs responsibilities in a government body have undergone a
major change, perceptions among officials are yet to change. Being a government
organisation, we do not have separate departments or officials to cater to issues
such as networking, database administration and so on. Thus we have to train
existing staff to deliver the required expertise; this was difficult in the
We have solved this problem successfully. We selected a few staff members and
sent them for training. Currently, four officials have been sent for hardware
training and two for database training.
Interaction with various departments varies from case-to-case, and is sometimes
tedious. Internal users are interested in what they want and do not think from
an IT perspective. Demands are always made from users, but these must fit into
the organisations technology roadmap. The best way to deal with demands
is to explain the best options to the user and how it fits the overall IT policy.
One should always listen to demands but only reach a final conclusion based
on what is possible.
Being a government body, interaction with the end-user is also important. User
training plays an important role in building relationships. It is very important
that the problems faced by citizens are understood in the first instance rather
than have the citizen approach you again. We therefore conducted user-training
on how to interact with citizens.
We had personality development sessions for the help desk department, as a result
of which we have seen a significant difference in the staffs quality of
Outsourcing is another concept which requires special management
skills. Since we are dealing with different sets of people in outsourcing, the
terms and conditions of the contract are very crucial and they should be very
Top management, team members, vendors, and so on
goes the CIOs relationship chains. Here is a brief look at how Subhash
Patil maintains relationships with various entities inside his organisation.
Since KDMC is a government body, our customers
are the citizens and it is our responsibility to give them the best service.
For that we first have to understand their problems, hence communication
is very important. Every six months we have surveys to know whether we
are on the right track; this helps us in planning projects properly.
Earlier the CIO would focus only on the technology aspect,
but now he is part of the decision-making process. There might often be
differences of opinion between him and the management, but it is up to
the CIO to convince the management about the roadmap of technology evolution
for the organisation.
Within The Organisation
It is imperative for us to work as a team so that
we can give the best service. For us to be able to deliver the best, all
the departments need to work together, so I need to handle relationships
with people from different departments as well as with my department staff.
The CIO-vendor relationship needs to be very professional.
Thus, from my side, I should be prompt with my payments and the vendor
should deliver his products or services on time. As a representative of
my organisation, I must put forward my requirements clearly to vendors.
This is important as sometimes they are interested only in achieving their
targets. Managing the relationship with vendors is crucial because this
sometimes helps in reducing costs.
We are currently working on quite a few projects. We have already implemented
a service delivery model. This includes services to citizens such as providing
death certificates, business licences, water connections and so on. We call
it the 100 percent service delivery model as citizens need not go to various
departments for the service.
KDMC is designing a document named Vision 2020 that looks at how the corporation
will be in the year 2020. This will cover all aspects of the corporation such
as town planning, drainage and water supply. I am the main co-ordinator of the
project because in 2020 IT would definitely be one of the main enablers between
different departments. The top management is now aware that there will be a
role for an IT officer in any new project.
My role is now extended as a PR officer as I have to maintain relationships
with people to know their requirements.
We are also working on a GIS project which will allow us to link all citizen
databases to satellite images to help us speed up processes. For instance, if
the commissioner wants the list of defaulters, he can see it on the map itself.
We are planning to complete the GIS project by the end of this year.
As told to Vinita Gupta
Extricate yourself from me-myself mindsets
Inamdar, Vice-president, Finance & Accounts, Garware Polyester, says
that the CIO must be an excellent relationships manager and stick by proposals
that benefit employees, vendors and customers
The need for a CIO to be a relationship integrator has stemmed from the way
business has changed. Todays business is all about integration, hence
appropriate integration of the corporate strategy with the companys policies,
functionalities and processes is crucial.
Relationship management has changed the CIOs role. Many functionaries
now look at CIOs as a guide who improves their day-to-day functioning in terms
Integrator Of Entities
The organisations systems are installed and controlled or conceptualised
by the CIO, and unless they are not properly integrated, you wont see
proper results. The CIO has to therefore act as an integrator between his planning
team and business objectives. He must understand the business and manage relationships.
However, if the CIO is not able to extricate himself from the me-myself
mindset, then there are chances that he or she might fail in his or her business
This role reversal has had an impact on a CIOs career. There are two aspects
involvedinternal and external. Todays CIO is no more restricted
to just the IT department; due to his interaction with various players, he is
a candidate for the CEOs post.
Since the CIO interacts with various departments, his expertise is also enhanced,
hence he can also opt to do something on his own such as consulting to expand
It is important for a CIO to interact with new and existing
users as well as maintain a professional relationship with others. For us at
Garware, user training is a fundamental parameter in building relationships.
It is foremost in our functioning. We have a two-day training programme for
new recruits where we follow a structured training pattern.
As for professional relationships, I think there should be guidelines or procedures
to maintain the same. We do not have a formal procedure at present, but we are
working towards one with help from an HR agency.
Top management, team members, vendors, and so on...thus
goes the CIO's relationship chain. Here is a brief look at how Ajit Inamdar
maintains relationships with various entities inside and outside his organisation.
Managing customers is a different ball-game as they have
many options to choose from. It is impossible for a CIO working alone
to filter out what is available, what is not, and what is applicable to
a company. Thus, a CIO has to act as a radar receptive to customer needs.
Surveys are one of the best ways to maintain customer relationships. Along
with this, the CIO should develop checklists or a rating system for himself.
A CIO-vendor relationship needs to be transparent for
a better understanding to solve an organisations problems by delivering
the best solution.
I believe that a CIO should be a team leader because
this means interacting with your team often. I get some of the best suggestions
from my junior colleagues in the department. We have an information sharing
system by which we come up with good ideas. This has also helped us in
maintaining an open working environment.
From being just an observer in the decision-making process,
todays CIO has become a part of the strategy, policy and action
plan. Since we are a part of this process, the top management should consider
Challenges On The Road
The challenge is to be an integrator and understand the business objective if
you want to achieve it. A CIO is a business integrator, team member of the top
management team, and co-decision maker.
CIOs stumble when they are not able to understand the business or the psyche
of the users. It is important that the CIO understand the level of technology
awareness among users in various departments; this would help him in aligning
business strategies accordingly.
Managing relationships is not easy for a CIO. For example, if there is considerable
tension because of a certain proposal, the CIO should have the ability to bring
out the business benefit of the proposal and stand his ground. He should be
able to convince the management that it is a sound proposal, and this is when
his relationships with team members, customers and vendors will come into play.
Changing Business Processes
Outsourcing is yet another concept that the CIO needs to tackle. I feel that
outsourcing does not dramatically change the organisations culture or
a CIOs role. The CIO has to maintain relationships with vendors and develop
them further. There is no role change as he still sets the rules and terms which
are in line with company policies.
As the Indian economy grows, the role of the CIO and the CFO will overlap because
both have to act as business integrators. Todays business objectives require
a person who can also look at the marketing and production objectives. Such
a person would be in either finance or IT. Hence, in future, the CFO and CIO
roles could merge.
As told to Vinita Gupta
A CIO cant be a tech person all the time
Narkar, CIO, Centurion Bank of Punjab, talks about how role expectation
and change impact relationship management
Relationship management for a CIO is expectations management
as he has to meet the expectations of others at different levels inside and
outside the organisation. Management of relationships becomes difficult if expectations
are not fulfilled. To find out the expectations, an assessment of the situation,
identification of the right team, and distribution of roles or jobs to the people
in that team is important.
The CIO needs to understand a projects
magnitude, his responsibilities and abilities. Over commitment and poor
understanding create problems in relationship management. Change management
is also an important aspect in managing relationships
The CIO needs to understand the projects magnitude,
his responsibilities and abilities. Over-commitment and poor understanding create
problems in relationship management. Change management is also an important
aspect in managing relationships. The change can be in the business process
or change of software or hardware. If changes are not properly articulated and
managed, then the CIO fails in relationship management.
Role of the CIO
In relationship management, the role of a CIO keeps changing. He cannot be a
technology person all the time. He has to first understand the problems and
requirements, and then put technology to use. Changing roles may help him in
managing and delivering expectations.
The CIO has to play a judges role and at the same time
be good at maintaining relationships. This is because sometimes expectations
could be a little too much. At such times, the CIO has to be firm and explain
the reasons. I therefore think that sometimes you can maintain a relationship
better by being professional rather than personal.
Training is important to create a culture and understanding
among end users. Bank of Punjab got merged with Centurion Bank last year and
became Centurion Bank of Punjab. Now we have to train both our new and old employees.
A new employee needs to understand requirements and expectations.
Unless you ensure that, you cannot achieve results from the relationship. Training
should be a continuous process as requirements keep changing. The merger had
a positive impact on the customers as they are getting faster and better services.
The CIO needs to identify the regular or ordinary jobs that need to be outsourced.
Outsourcing is required as that is labour-intensive and time-saving. We do not
require major IT brains to really work on jobs like putting guidelines and checklists
in place, and so these jobs are outsourced.
Top management, team members, vendors, and so on
goes the CIOs relationship chains. Here is a brief look at how Sanjay
Narkar maintains relationships with various entities inside his organisation.
The CIOs role is to
understand customers needs and try to fulfil them. He has to be
good at solving problems.
For a CIO, direct relationship
with customers is often not possible so frontline service people interact
with the customers and find out their requirements. We learn about a customers
problem from the front-liners, then we try to solve it.
There are many vendors,
so its important to identify the right vendor. In our bank, we have
identified two kinds of vendors: the partner vendor and the supplier vendor.
The relationship with the
partner vendor should be transparent. He should be a part of business
discussions. Partner vendors carry industry experience and knowledge.
They have implemented similar projects in other organisations and hence
We have a professional relationship
with our supplier vendors. We first understand their solutions in terms
of knowledge, reach, capacity and cost, then we compare their solutions
with those offered by other vendors.
It is important to first
understand your role and its effect on others in the team. The CIO should
first listen to the problems and needs of his team members, and then help
them. We have a well-defined process for maintaining relationships with
As far as business requirements
are concerned, we have the practice of putting up a process or product
note. This note is then sent to all respective group heads (including
audit, for security reasons) to procure signatures and initiate action.
To participate in the organisations
future plans, the CIO has to maintain a good relationship with the management.
He needs to inform them about ITs role along with requirements like
investments and time needed to align the technology with business plans.
So while dealing with the management, the CIO plays the role of an advisor.
We have a weekly or fortnightly
meeting between group heads and management wherein we update them on business
processes; with this we get to know what is required for business expansion.
Projects in the Pipeline
We are presently working on about 10 to 12 parallel projects
for merging of core banking, retail banking, banking software and ATM networks,
and plan to complete these projects by October 2006.
We are carrying out an entire network revamp for almost 300+ sites using MPLS.
Once we are through with this project we will work on our data centres, DR and
BC. Recently we have taken a decision to go for analytic solutions. We support
the HR in achieving the entire merger through e-forms for salary, performance
and so on.
Relationship management plays an important role in these projects. Project reviews
should be undertaken along with the people involved in it. Reviewing projects
makes the relationship easy and healthy. Then you can either resolve or give
project support and manage the relationship better. Taking decisions on time
and contributing towards the project are important to manage the relationship.
You need to be alert on all fronts whether it is management, vendors, team members
As told to Vinita Gupta
Relationships empower the CIO
Sadavarte, CIO, Patni Computer Systems, explains the role of relationships
in solving conflicts and achieving business objectives
I feel that relationship management plays an important role in solving conflicts.
Relationships basically mean leveraging internal and external social networks
to build alignments and rally support for various organisational initiatives.
Conflicts usually occur in business proce-sses. They can be internal as with
the management or team members, or external as with vendors and customers. Con-flicts
are inevitable, but the challenge will be on how I use my relationships to resolve
these conflicts and move ahead.
For resolving conflicts first interact with the person and
listen to him carefully. Understand his needs because the needs of both parties
are similar many a time. With proper communication, 75 percent of conflicts
can be solved. The CIO can be successful in relationship management by understanding
the needs and expectation of every stakeholder.
The remaining 25 percent test you. To solve that, the CIO should try to convince
by negotiation. For example, out of ten demands fulfil at least five. This way
you can be successful in solving conflicts most of the time. If not, then we
have a committee to solve the problem.
There are structures which help in building relationships. For instance, if
I am looking at a CRM system, then I will set up a user leadership committee
with personnel from all the departments.
This team will drive and dictate the organisations long-term needs. In
this process they will become aware of the problems in the job realities, and
try to solve them.
Every business has people who are connected to other influential people, so
these people can be your supporters or opponents. To be successful, the CIO
should understand partner networks and convince opponents. He has to analyse
the environment and work out appropriate strategies. This will help him overcome
challenges that he will be facing, not just work-related but also relationship-related.
Here he needs a relationship network.
User Training Is Crucial
If users are not trained properly in a software, they will not understand its
functionality. If the CIO rolls out new systems and processes without making
them aware of changes, then he may not achieve the desired business objectives.
Hence, getting users involved right at the concept level is important. There
are always frequently-asked-questions about the system that has been launched,
apart from knowledge-based documents. Any system rolled out should therefore
have user training documents which should be uploaded on the intranet so that
people can access it. If possible, we should give our people personalised user
Top management, team members, vendors, and so on...thus
goes the CIOs relationship chain. Here is a brief look at how Vinod
Sadavarte maintains relationships with various entities inside his organisation.
The CIOs relationship with
vendors should be transparent and not transactional. They should have
mutual understanding to achieve goals. Hence, to get good output it is
necessary to keep vendors happy.
The relationship also helps
the CIO get that extra bit of support from vendors. Such assistance is
needed at crucial junctures. They could be during implementation, training,
or consulting support.
Team members play an integral part since the long-term
IT strategy plan would not be possible without them. My responsibility
is to support them by providing good technology platforms so that they
can constantly update their skillsets. This will help them deliver the
requisite solutions to the company.
Business strategies and activities are ultimately governed
by the top management. The challenge for them is to periodically review
my activities and make suggestions for improvement.
Its necessary for a CIO to understand customer
needs and deliver exactly according to their specifications. Customers
dont have the experience of the systems I am providing. For instance,
if I give my customer an error-prone system, then he will be dissatisfied.
Hence we have online reports pertaining to the projects which should help
customers solve problems. A direct relationship with customers is not
Outsourcing has an impact on the CIOs role. Earlier, he had to do everything
in-house, but now he has the outsourcing option. He may outsource all IT functions
to the vendor or only maintenance of applications or specific areas. Outsourcing
will help him save time which can be utilised for the organisations long-term
End-customers look at quality, solution and timelines, and will not consider
how the process is performed. It doesnt matter to them whether you outsource
it or not. Outsourcing does not matter to internal customers either. The management
is more concerned about the CIOs performance and the total outsourcing
cost. So if the outsourcing cost is reduced, then the management is happy.
For any initiative to be successful, it needs support from all the stakeholders.
If I as a CIO do not maintain good relationships though constant communication,
review mechanisms and dia-logues, then I am either going to fail or it will
delay my initiatives. I therefore need to maintain good relationships with all
the stakeholders and take them forward as a team to achieve business objectives.