Tech Refresh – Yes, it is still a requirement

Tech Refresh – Yes, it is still a requirement

Just like your car, just like your home, just like everything physical you own – IT Infrastructure will wear out, and it will break. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve stepped into the head of IT Infrastructure role to find hardware upwards of 10 plus years old installed and supporting mission-critical applications with the business suffering under far too frequent Sev 1 outages.  Nothing erodes confidence in IT more than critical service outages. No one is interested in talking strategy or innovation with the CIO when core IT Services are not on solid footing.

Before you say, “That does not happen these days, everyone hosts their servers at AWS, Azure, Google, etc. “, please read the February 26 Tending the Plumbing article. According to a 2019 Spiceworks State of IT Budgets  article, 20 percent of IT budgets are spent on IT infrastructure. The 2019 Spiceworks research also shows the current reality is that 98 percent of businesses are running server hardware on-premise. (That is not to say 98 percent of servers are on-premise. It does not matter if you have one or two servers, or hundreds, if you are an organization of any size, you will have network equipment.)

What is IT Infrastructure again? 

IT infrastructure is the shared technology resources that provide the platform for the firm’s specific information system applications. IT infrastructure includes hardware, software, and services that are shared across the entire firm as well as access to external services such as web-hosted applications and services. Major IT infrastructure components include computer hardware platforms, operating system platforms, enterprise software platforms, networking and telecommunications platforms, database management software, Internet platforms, and consulting services and systems integrators, including desktop and mobile devices and software. Virtually, everything digital requires direct support or access supported by IT infrastructure. It is often the largest area of spending by an IT department.
There are four significant steps to an infrastructure roadmap approach:
  1. Established IT infrastructure lifecycle refresh strategy
  2. Identify current IT Infrastructure inventory
  3. Risk assessment
  4. Prioritizing IT Infrastructure Roadmap

IT Infrastructure Lifecycle Refresh Strategy

IT Infrastructure is comprised of hardware, software, and services shared across all platforms.
The hardware and software lifecycle is dependent on the supplier’s support plans and the company’s needs and wants to adopt the functionality and capability of more current versions.
Hardware is typically refreshed based on acquisition strategies (capital versus expense) against risk tolerance, resource capacity, and expense management requirements and will vary based on hardware categories. I’ve always used a general rule of thumb for budget planning:
  • PC’s: 36 months
  • Servers: 60 months
  • Routers/Switches 72 months
Like all rules of thumb, rules will be broken based on business growth and variables not always under IT controls.   A  sophisticated perspective of hardware refresh cycles can be found at

IT Infrastructure Inventory

First and foremost, your IT strategy and roadmap should include Infrastructure.   A good plan starts with understanding the current state, including an inventory of all things managed.  We want to hope that everyone has a robust configuration management database in place, but we know all too well that is often not the case.  At minimal, an asset inventory is required. If you don’t have one, you will need to create one utilizing a series of tools such as Microsoft’s SCCM, Solarwinds, and other asset management tools.


Fortunately, asset management tools such as Snow, Flexera, and ServiceNow are being challenged by many newcomers to the asset management space


Unfortunately, in some environments, there may be mission-critical IT equipment not attached to the network requiring a physical inventory exercise.  I’ve found this to be the norm in a manufacturing environment.  At a minimum, it is essential to research.

While gathering the physical attributes of the hardware will require identifying the services hosted, the install date and installed OS, utilities, and application software versions.  The service support lifecycle of both the hardware and OS should also be noted.  (Heads Up: Most of the time, this level of inventory rigor reveals configuration items underutilized, no longer relevant or never fully implemented.  That in itself is an excellent reason to build the inventory)
Once you have a substantial inventory, the next step will be to assess the risks associated with the individual pieces of hardware and software.

Risk Assessment 

Prioritization for executing refresh will be based on the risk associated with each inventory item.  Assessing the risk is a bit of art combine with science. Your assessment should take into consideration the business risk and technology risks of the current state. From a business risk perspective, you will want to weigh and assess the capacity and  maintenance cost.  Regulator compliance, and any health and safety risks the age and state of the hardware may imply.

From a technical perspective, vendor support quality, availability, service reliability. The complexity of support, including skill sets required, security, performance, standards conformations, and overall vendor security and performance characteristics, weigh into your overall assessment.

To add to this already multi-dimensional assessment, application projects in process as well as planned layered onto critical business calendar events must be identified as they will influence the timing and order of refresh activities.


Prioritization and Refresh Roadmap

This big picture holistic approach of identifying the landscape and assessing risk will prepare you for defining your technology refresh roadmap.  The roadmap will be a series of projects laid out across multiple years.  I have found managing the refresh projects grouped by technology as a program to be the best practice as the interdependencies can become unwieldy.  If the organization does not have an infrastructure project management life cycle, one can typically be developed using the existing waterfall systems development lifecycle.  The point here is the necessity of establishing the rigor of requirements, phase gates, resources management, change management, timelines, and success factors.

In Closing

It is simple, at the same time hard. Hard because it is not fun, often results in unplanned work and expense, and most importantly does not offer an apparent return to the business – until something critical breaks.  My advice to you is: Don’t be that CIO or IT Infrastructure leader left to account for allowing the company to be put at risk.  Call me if you want to discuss more or are looking for hands-on help in addressing your refresh requirements. That is not me, but I am sure I can recommend qualified resources.

Until March 25, have a great two weeks!

Tending the Plumbing

Tending the Plumbing

A couple of weeks ago, we returned home from traveling, tired, and grimy after a very long cross-country flight. The only thing on my mind as I pulled into the driveway was a hot shower, a cup of chamomile tea, and my pillow – in that order. As the garage door opened, we could easily see a large puddle of water spread across the floor. The water heater blew while we were away. My heart sank.

It should not have been a big surprise. We had no idea how old the heater was. It was in the house when we purchased it five years ago. I don’t ever recall anyone checking it. It was left unattended. Fortunately, our plumber had an emergency 24 on-call service and they were there the next day to replace the water heater – at a premium cost, I might add. There was no time to shop around. My shower would have to wait.I could not help but reflect on a conversation I had with a client just a few days prior. He sought my help in planning for and messaging a request for funding to upgrade the infrastructure under his care. It was old, it was breaking, and it had been left unattended for too long.

Infrastructure is like that. Despite its large investment, hardware and network equipment does not last forever. Many would believe that outsourced data centers or cloud services have replaced infrastructure services. That is absolutely not the case. According to a 2019 SpiceWorks State of IT Budgets, 20 percent of IT budgets are spent on infrastructure. The Spiceworks research also shows the current reality is that 98 percent of businesses are running their server hardware on-premises.

Despite cloud and outsourcing initiatives, the total infrastructure cost has not changed over the last ten years. As early as 2010, infrastructure accounted for approximately 60 percent of the overall IT budget per Gartner. Cloud computing played a role in internal hosting cost reduction but, I believe consolidation, virtualization and cost of replacements played a more significant role in reducing overall infrastructure budgets. At the same time, Spiceworks research shows that the total cost of infrastructure is still around 70%. 

Why on-premise at all?” some may ask.

On-premise solutions guarantee the maximum level of security and corporate data privacy with an expectation of maximum physical access to any information located on a server in your own data center. On-premise solutions are demanded by medium-sized and large business companies for whom internal data control and security would be the main priority.

The second consideration I see is performance and latency concerns associated with manufacturing control data. As network bandwidth capacity goes up and costs go down, performance should be less and less of a barrier.

Nevertheless, local communication network infrastructure equipment and servers (firewalls, routers, hubs, switched, access points) along with desktop equipment will continue to require on-premise hardware and services.

The bottom line, Infrastructure is here to stay, and infrastructure expense will continue indefinitely – or at least as long as the enterprise remains in business. Just as we replace our automobiles, roofs, and appliances, corporate IT infrastructure has a lifecycle with a requirement to be maintained and refreshed.

Here is the challenge. Small to Medium businesses often find themselves in the position of having to refresh their IT equipment. Very few have an IT Strategy, and the IT leader struggles with how to pull together an IT refresh plan.

I’ve been asked: “What’s an IT Refresh Plan?”

It is a portion of the IT strategy and roadmap that focuses on the IT infrastructure, server, storage, network, telephones, PCs, laptops, printers etc. and sets out when these need to be replaced. This is a plan that is best included in the broader IT strategy.

It purely concentrates on the age of equipment. There may be other reasons that equipment needs upgrading or changing, but the IT refresh plan will always require that you have an essential if not a firm idea of when hardware and software are coming to end of life and will need replacing.

As was the lesson from my broken water heater, it is always better to plan a replacement rather than wait until an essential piece of equipment decides to break down. Not only will you reduce downtime to zero, but systems will also operate more efficiently since computers get slower as they age. You’ll also be able to plan your budgets and negotiate better pricing. Knowing that purchases are imminent, you may be able to take advantage of the end of the sales period or special offers.

Having an IT refresh plan in place will also help with the standardization of your hardware and PC configuration. Standardization removes compatibility and communication problems, improves security, and enables scheduling of updates.

Why Do You Need an IT Refresh Plan?

Investing in hardware and infrastructure does not reap apparent business rewards. It is a utility. It is expected to be there and operating flawlessly when needed. Business leadership commits to funding what they need at the time of the need, especially if there is a promise of new or needed business functionality. Projects are often tasked with supporting the initial cost for equipment or services required to deliver the promised functionality. The process may even “account” for the trailing costs of the project. There most likely is some thought put into the whether you will standardize on Apple, Dell or HP hardware. When it is a new expense (or one they are struggling with), businesses tend to ‘bootstrap,’ looking for the best deal to do what they need at the time. The choice is not always the one with the longest lifecycle.

The need for IT systems grows and expands over time as the business grows. New and additional infrastructure will be added to support the company as well as the addition of new business functionality. Most often, there is little to no planning about what the business might need going forward.

As the original equipment ages, the new stuff (that’s a technical term) is purchased and added. Before long, you end up with a hodgepodge of equipment that can involve hardware from several different manufacturers. You most likely will well end up with several operating systems. Machine specifications can vary wildly, and this can cause issues with the software. This can include getting to the point where systems simply won’t work. To add to the concern and confusion, it is highly likely you’ve not implemented asset and configuration management plans. You most likely are not sure of what you have.

Where Do I Start?

You start by developing an Infrastructure Refresh Plan and Roadmap. If I’ve piqued your interest, come back March 11th when I will lay out the necessary steps to developing an IT Infrastructure Refresh Plan.

Until next time – I am here if you have questions or want to talk!


Mary Patry
IT Executive Advisor and Leadership Coach  
 480.393.0722 (AZ)
 [email protected]

Let’s Talk sponsored by an IT Executive Coaching and Advisory practice targeting CIO’s challenge of leading and delivering business solutions with a focus on effective people and process capabilities. Discover the possibilities by scheduling a complimentary strategy session with Mary Patry. 

CEO-CIO Alignment is Not A Guessing Game

CEO-CIO Alignment is Not A Guessing Game

It was 2002 and I had been asked to step up into the CIO seat. At the time, I was the head of Infrastructure. I had built an excellent reputation as a “get it done” leader which had resulted from a very effective technology integration of two equal-sized merged companies. It was a tough decision. I knew I was not ready, and I wasn’t confident I wanted the job. I accepted the position to prevent someone from coming in from the outside.

Oh, how I often wish for a do-over. Though I was a member of the senior executive leadership, I was not accepted as a partner. I did not deserve to be. I was frustrated on many fronts as I knew I needed to step it up. As such, I requested funding to subscribe to what was then the elite CIO “training” opportunity under the Meta Group CIO mentoring program. My assigned CIO Coach, Louis Boyle, saved me big time. As my coach and mentor, he helped me to see beyond my experience and taught me to look at business problems strategically as solutions to be solved. At that time, mobile computing and business intelligence were promising technologies and I got lucky with vendor and business partners willing to work with us on some pretty leading-edge technology solutions. It helped that I had a fantastic IT team on my side.

Fast forward to today and the technology solutions back then appear to be out of an old science fiction movie. The capabilities coming out of the digital transformation are driving the integration of technology into all areas of the business. They are changing how companies operate and deliver to their customers. The hardest part is the cultural change requirements that require leaders to continuously challenge the status quo, experiment with courage, and grow comfortable with failure.

All these things have elevated the CIO role, yet I still see IT leaders struggle to collaborate with business units at a strategic level effectively. Too many times, CIO’s and their IT organization are thought to be a barrier to change and sadly in some cases they are believed to be order takers. To add to the challenge is the breadth of expectations of the IT leadership. Fundamentally, they must make sure they are delivering on core services like email and network access. If the core services are not working, no one will be interested in hearing their innovative strategic ideas.

While some challenges still exist, a 2018 State of the CIO survey reported stronger alignment between IT and their business partners. Almost three-quarters of the survey responses said IT and the business engage more frequently when there is shared oversight.

CIOs have the opportunity to play a significant role in assisting the business in driving innovation. This opportunity is greatly enhanced when the CIO is looked at as a strategic advisor.

How do you find out where you stand? It is best to ASK.

You can ask through conversation. It is not very time-consuming on both the CEO and the CIO. Unfortunately, there is a tendency for the CIO not to ask and it is not the priority of the CEO to tell.

You can ask through a survey tool. Fortunately, two InfoTech diagnostic tools have proven very helpful in both measuring and identifying opportunities to improve – the CEO-CIO Alignment Diagnostic and the CIO Business Vision diagnostic.  


CEO-CIO Alignment Diagnostic

The CEO-CIO Alignment Diagnostic measures six critical areas of IT performance to enable the prioritization of improvement initiatives. The survey questionnaire is only 20 questions that can be completed in less than 20 minutes. Areas addressed include the CEO’s overall satisfaction of IT, IT budget, staffing, business needs for technology, performance measurements, project portfolio progress, and stakeholder alignment.

Here is a snapshot view of the CEO-CIO alignment with the business goals view:
A feature of the report that resonates with both the CEO and CIO is the comparison of the CEO and CIO’s performance perceptions. A snapshot of the report is portrayed here. The gap in perceptions enables the CIO to provoke what may be the most candid conversation across the life of the CIO career. The visibility into the gaps between the CIO and CEO perception is priceless in providing the basis for the CIO focus and direction.

CIO Business Vision Diagnostic

The second tool I use is the Info-Tech CIO Business Vision Diagnostic. The insights and benefits of this diagnostic are broad. It looks at the needs of the stakeholders, enables getting beyond rumor and opinion to facts, and provides a baseline performance and capacity measurement at both the organization and the department level. An outcome of the report is the insight that enables a focus on what is essential to the business. The CIO Business Vision is most effective when it is executed periodically. CIO’s find the overall performance and capacity metrics will play an essential role in governance and strategy decisions and action plans.


To assure the success and effectiveness of their IT organization, CIO’s cannot leave their relationship with the CEO to chance:
  • As investment in technology continues to increase, management and control of the IT budget rests on internal IT leadership AND CIO’s need the trust of the CEO to retain that control.
  • The need for collaboration between heads of IT and LOB leaders continues to increase.
  • Availability of skilled resources will continue to plague the CIO, requiring an even greater need to measure performance.
  • As the focus continues to shift to digital transformation, there’s a high potential for more technology decisions to be made outside of IT, driving a higher need for collaboration between IT, CEO, and business peer. CIO’s cannot leave their relationship with the CEO to chance.

Even though a CIO benefits from focusing on stakeholder management and relationship building, there is value in measuring the perception of the CEO and business peers against your own.

I am providing you a link to the InfoTech CEO-CIO Alignment and the CIO Business Vision sample reports. If either sparks your interest, give me a call to discuss how diagnostics might ensure your success.

Until next time – I am here if you have questions or want to talk!



Mary Patry
IT Executive Advisor and Leadership Coach  
 480.393.0722 (AZ)
 [email protected]

Let’s Talk sponsored by an IT Executive Coaching and Advisory practice targeting CIO’s challenge of leading and delivering business solutions with a focus on effective people and process capabilities. Discover the possibilities by scheduling a complimentary strategy session with Mary Patry. 

Four IT Spend Questions in Need of Answers

Four IT Spend Questions in Need of Answers

Effective IT management is not necessarily about spending less – or more; it’s about allocating dollars, resources, and talent wisely and monitoring for benefits realization on many fronts.

Surprisingly, many IT organizations do not harvest the data nor have disciplines in place to readily answer a few seemingly easy questions about their IT investments:

  1. Where are our IT dollars, resources, and talent deployed today?
  2. Do we have the data and processes in place to present a business view of IT investments?
  3. How do our IT resource allocations, costs, and performance compare to others in the industry, especially top performers?
  4. Are our IT investments aligned to business objectives?

Although closing in on the answers may be a never-ending journey, Martha Hein, one of ITeffectivity’s Executive Advisors and a Cost Management extraordinaire, outlines the steps you can take to get there

Let’s get started!

1. Where are our IT dollars, resources, and talent deployed today?

Running the Business of IT depends on the timely availability, analysis, and understanding of quantifiable IT financial and operations data. To demonstrate benefits realization and the value being delivered to the business, IT must first be able to communicate what services are being provided, at what cost and for what return. The first step to answering this question is to compile your data into a scalable model. Data sources include extracts from your financial systems (actual spend by GL and Cost Center, fixed asset registers, prepaid services balance sheets, Purchase Orders, etc.), HR, Payroll and Timekeeping systems as well as IT systems (Active Directory, CMDB, Infrastructure and Applications Monitoring, Service Ticketing, etc.).

Data models are useful tools to measure how your dollars, resources, and talent are being spent today and may elucidate how these might be more profitably spent tomorrow. Data models and taxonomies vary, but the Technology Business Management (TBM) Council1 provides an excellent public domain example of the inputs required to gather the foundational data necessary to answer this question.

This data provides the first building blocks required for transparent fact-based communications between IT and business leaders.

2. Do we have the data and processes in place to present a business view of IT investments?

As stated above, the IT Financial and IT Functional views of your IT investments are the first building blocks used for running the Business of IT. The endgame, however, is to have a clear Business view of IT investments. To create a Business view, you must reframe IT investments from a business perspective. Arriving at a Business view requires additional analysis of the above data and may require other inputs.

Business leaders are interested in achieving operational excellence and realizing profitable growth, innovation, and transformation for their organizations. To deliver optimal value to the businesses they serve, IT organizations must proactively manage their investments and services portfolios to become enablers, or better yet, drivers of these business objectives. From a Business perspective, running effective and efficient day-to-day IT operations is merely to provide a commodity service.

Demonstrate you do more than keep the lights on by enhancing your data model to enable you to report on IT investments along business dimensions.

  • Business partners are often not aware of the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) of a given IT business service, the full price tag to implement, or the support cost of the technology for a given business capability. Develop a Bill of IT to provide a view of your IT investment portfolio that reveals TCO by business service and/or Line of Business. Help your business partners understand the cost drivers (without burdening them with the details of all the moving parts under the IT hood). Ideally, you understand the cost components well enough to be able to provide counsel on how to favorably impact cost without adversely impacting service levels or creating undue risk. For example, is business demand commensurate with business value? Can you move away from Tier 1 storage or reduce the number of user application licenses without impacting productivity?  
  • Demonstrating return on investments requires that you identify the criteria that will be used to measure benefits realization and then establish a baseline against which to measure outcomes. Work with your business partners to define criteria and baselines, then implement on-going monitoring of benefits realization based on agreed-upon measures.

3. How do our IT resource allocations, costs, and performance compare to others in the industry, especially top performers?

Measuring your cost and service performance against industry benchmarks can uncover opportunities for efficiency improvements, thus allowing you to do more with less. Or, more of what is profitable, less of what is marginal, and none of what is just plain wasteful. You will use the data gathered to answer the above questions and simple arithmetic to answer question No. 3. Total IT spend divided by Corporate Revenue equals IT Cost as Percent of Revenue. IT Dollars spent divided by Units supported/produced equals Unit Cost. Setting up the formulas for performance measures may be trickier and the results may not be as objective, but is still relatively uncomplicated. You meet or exceed your Service Level Agreements ##% of the time. On average, you get either an X or a Y on Customer Satisfaction Surveys.

As an important caveat, industry benchmark data typically provides averages. When put in context, there may be legitimate business-driven reasons why your organization’s results vary from others in the industry. For example, if your business strategy is to pursue aggressive growth through Mergers and Acquisitions, you will need to funnel resources from Run the Business and Transform/Innovate the Business to Grow the Business and/or accept a higher cost of IT as a percent of Revenue. In another example, if you are aggressively pursuing rapid innovations in your product R&D pipeline, you may want to overlook typical storage costs in favor of being able to model and readily access every permutation of promising molecular structures.

4. Are our IT investments aligned to business objectives?

Start with an easy top-down mapping exercise. Utilize your organization’s core business strategies. Ideally, IT leadership was at the table when these were defined. Identify the core competencies2 and specific Business and IT capabilities that are required to support the strategy. Map the IT programs that support each of the pillars of the strategy.

In Closing

It is difficult to know with any degree of certainty if your IT investments are aligned to your business objectives until you have at least preliminary answers to the previous questions. Do not allow a possible lack of a comprehensive data set to detract from taking proactive action.

We will cover additional aspects of running the “Business of IT” in future articles. We welcome your feedback on what has worked well for your organization and where you continue to feel pain points.

Until next time – we are here if you have questions or want to talk!

Martha and Mary

Mary Patry
IT Executive Advisor and Leadership Coach  
 480.393.0722 (AZ)
 [email protected]

Let’s Talk sponsored by an IT Executive Coaching and Advisory practice targeting CIO’s challenge of leading and delivering business solutions with a focus on effective people and process capabilities. Discover the possibilities by scheduling a complimentary strategy session with Mary Patry. 

5 Steps to an Effective Performance Review

5 Steps to an Effective Performance Review

The power of an annual performance review is underrated.  

 In some circles, they are said to do more harm than good, especially if that is the only time you are meeting with an employee to review their performance. Too many times the annual performance review is used to:  

  • Provide advice on areas needing improvement 
  • Justify a raise or bonus 
  • Decide if the employee is ready for a promotion 
  • Justify a future termination  

 That is a whole lot of purpose squeezed into one conversation.   

 As indicated in last weeks article, the annual review is a critical phase of the traditional performance management life cycle. The performance management lifecycle definition encompasses four main stages:  

  •  Goals  
  • Feedback  
  • Review  
  • Reward 

Today we will explore Feedback and Review as they are tightly connected. I contend that without regular feedback conversations, the annual review is ineffective. The challenge is that many IT managers have never been taught how to have a feedback conversation with their employeesTo add to the problem, most IT managers are elevated into manager roles without much, if any, management and IT leadership training at all. This only further propagates the problem.   

A wellintegrated feedback and review process supports holding ongoing performance conversations using goals and development progress to help the discussionI portray it as a cycle because it is compelling to look at performance management as a system.    

An effective performance system requires a coaching approach. A good manager, like a good coach, can see their employees from all sides, subjective and objective. They ask themselves questions regularlyWhat is this person good at?” “What do they care about?” “What do they need to be successful?” “Where do they want to take their career? What is happening outside of the workplace that is impacting their happiness and performance at work? The answers cannot be determined in a vacuum. It requires caring about the individual beyond their performance metrics. The answers to these questions need a conversation.   

When done well, the performance system is quite effective in providing answers to questions all employees seek: “What do I need to do to be successful?, What are my chances of advancement? “Am I doing my job well? Are my efforts appreciated? “ 


An Effective Performance System


  • Periodic Feedback Conversations 

     There is nothing more potent than performance feedback during regularly scheduled conversationsThe cadence will depend on the level and situation of the employee activities. The key is to mutually define the rhythm and then stay true to it. Yes, things happen, but if you are always canceling 1:1’s, what message is that sending the employee? You are sending a message that says – You are not important enough to me.    

The construct of the feedback conversations will benefit from a defined agenda to guide the conversation and help the employee come prepared.  Create an agenda that works for you.  I like a simple agenda:   

  • Accomplishments since we last met 
  • Challenges you are focusing on 
  • Progress against goals
  • What is next on your pipeline of work 
  • What do you need help from me with  

ask that the employee documents the answers to these questions and leaves a copy with me as a foundation for our conversationDuring our feedback conversation, the role of the manager is to provide feedback in the form of affirming or outlining corrective actions. Since these are regular conversations, there should be tweaks 

I recommend using the Start-Stop-Continue retrospective feedback model. A startstopcontinue retrospective is a simple and effective way for individuals (or teams) to reflect on their recent experiences and decide on what things they should change as they move forward. I like to reverse the order as it supports ending the conversation on a positive note.   

Continue: Identifies things that worked in the previous cycle and needs to be part of the individualcore activities 

Stop: Looks back at the last period to identify which things that are not working work and should cease or change 

Start: Activities are those things the employee will begin doing in the next period

This model was initially developed for team performance, but I find it works as effectively with individuals. If you are not familiar with the model, click on the link above or search for it. There are a vast number of articles written about it.

  • Mid-Year Formal Review 
    Mid-year reviews have been introduced into many organizations formal review process. I question their value if you are holding regular periodic feedback conversations but understand if they are a requirement they must be done. At the same time, I can see value in summarizing an employee’s progress towards performance and development goals.  
  • Year-End Formal Review
    Year-end reviews will be much less daunting and more straightforward with periodic conversations. At the same time, there is a need to formalize progress to plan. My recommendations for you are:      

 1. Take the time to prepare

 Performance reviews directly impact your employeecareer prospects, morale, and often their identity.  Best practice indicates spending at least three (ideally five) hours per employee preparing for performance review conversations every six months.

2. Seek Peer feedback while keeping it in perspective

 Peer feedback is essential, for sure. The reality is that there will be times when your employees will not be able to give someone what they wanted. Seek input while keeping it in perspective against the overall performance.   

 3. Provide substantive and constructive feedback

 Every employee is hungry for substantive and constructive feedback. Substantive in that, the feedback is meaningful. Constructive meaning, the actions can be executed against the input given. Nothing is more frustrating to an employee than to receive feedback that does not tie back to prior actions or that they cannot perform going forward. For great constructive feedback examples please refer to the following link

4. Hold a conversation, don’t just talk at them

 A conversation is twoway dialogue. Too often, managers rush through the review meeting by telling the employee what they think or what they should do without leaving space for the conversation. Yes, managers want to appear in control, but they sometimes lack confidence about showing that they may not have all the answers. A useful performance conversation is a mutual commitment to growth and learning which requires two-way communication.

5. Include a follow-up plan
The follow-up plan is an excellent opportunity to wrap the annual review into periodic feedback discussions. A follow-up plan will ensure that development topics stay top of mind and that progress will be made.

Bottom Line 

The bottom line is, if you cannot find the time to focus on all your direct reports career development throughout the year, you either have too many direct reports, or you are not making your reports a priority.  

 Find the time; it will pay off 

 Until next week!  


Mary Patry
IT Executive Advisor and Leadership Coach  
 480.393.0722 (AZ)
 [email protected]

Let’s Talk sponsored by an IT Executive Coaching and Advisory practice targeting CIO’s challenge of leading and delivering business solutions with a focus on effective people and process capabilities. Discover the possibilities by scheduling a complimentary strategy session with Mary Patry. 

Taking Back Control of Your Time

Taking Back Control of Your Time

Lets talk about time. Who feels they have excess time available?   

In last week’s article, we discussed time’s impact on feeling overwhelmed. Time is in short supply with ever-increasing demands looking to take it over. Time is the most precious commodity in our lives. Once it is spent, it is gone forever.   

One of the biggest drains of a CIO’s time is meetings. Research has shown CIO’s and IT leaders spend about 60% of their time in meetings, another 35% tackling problems, and only 5% presenting ideas and strategies.  

The ideal day optimizes time to allow for focus on innovation, strategy, and people development while minimizing the amount of time needed for operational challenges and exceptions.  

It is very easy to become overwhelmed with the demands on your time. How can you manage the things coming at you and take control of your time? The key comes down to understanding how and where you spend your time.   

How many of you have ever heard of or seen what I like to call the Four D’s?  Dump – Do – Delegate – Defer.  

The best way that I’ve found to understand how you spend your time is to list all the functions/tasks that you perform. I find creating a spreadsheet matrix works well.  

The most thorough approach is to track your time in 15-minute increments across two weeks. I can see your eyes rolling on that one. At the very least, sit down and start listing everything you do, every meeting you attend, every report you create, review, or approve. List everything. It often helps to see the input of your assistant or right hand. And don’t forget the mundane tasks 

Once you have done this, you can go right into assessing your time with an open mind and raw honesty. You are only kidding yourself without completing this step.   

I like to start by asking myself, “What things consume my time with little to no value? If you listen to Peter Drucker, “What do we need to stop?  Whatever those things are, they are great candidates for tagging as “Dump.” You don’t have time to do things that add little to no value.    

What are the things I must do MYSELF! Here you need to keep an open mind with raw honesty. If you really are the only person who can do it, then tag it as “Do.   

What things can I defer? And if I can defer, until when can I defer them  

What things must be done AND can they be delegated? Delegate them SMART!  

Specific– Be specific as to what exactly you want them to do. 

Measurable – Agree to what successful completion of the task means. Ensure you can measure a good job done. 

Achievable– Ensure you set achievable goals. If you don’t, you risk morale running low and ineffectiveness spreading amongst the team. 

Relevant– The task/goal must be relevant to the team or individual and in line with their development needs. 

Timely  Every goal or task must have a target completion date upon which you will measure the effectiveness of the goal. Always ensure that the person or people undertaking the task understand the time span and by when the task should be completed. 

Once you have your list defined, take action against your plan. Refine the list as items are identified or removed. If you follow this technique as laid out, I trust that you will take control of your time. Let us know how it works for you!   

Until next time, have an effective week! 


ITeffectivity LLC was founded in 2013 with the mission of helping IT Leaders bring order to their ever-changing world.  Since then, Mary has advised over 80 leaders as well on behalf of Fortune 100 firms to small non-profits. Discover your possibilities by scheduling a complimentary strategy session with Mary Patry. 

Mary Patry
IT Executive Advisor and Leadership Coach  
 480.393.0722 (AZ)
 [email protected]

Let’s Talk sponsored by an IT Executive Coaching and Advisory practice targeting CIO’s challenge of leading and delivering business solutions with a focus on effective people and process capabilities. Discover the possibilities by scheduling a complimentary strategy session with Mary Patry.