10 tips for helming IT through ups and downs

Impending mergers, ultrafast growth and sharp dips all put pressure on IT leaders to make quick decisions about tech plans. Here’s how to make IT shine in times of change.

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Most organizations experience growth in fits and starts, with alternating periods of expansion and contraction. IT used to have to react to those twists and turns on the fly. But now, with a role more tightly aligned with business, IT is instead helping lead through such changes.

"In the past, IT was routinely too late to react to change," says Chas Hartwig, strategic account executive at TayganPoint Consulting Group. That was mostly because IT wasn't in the loop — not knowing why the company made a certain acquisition or pulled back on spending, he says. But now that IT has a direct influence on the success of budget cutbacks or mergers and acquisitions, CIOs have to know "when to put the brakes on, accelerate or drive around in circles" when it comes to tech investments, Hartwig says.

Here are some tips from IT experts about how to be well positioned for ups and downs:

1. Be at the table, not just in the room.

Having stature and having a direct say in decision-making are two different things, according to Michael Restuccia, senior vice president and CIO at Philadelphia's Penn Medicine, a $6 billion healthcare organization made up of the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Pennsylvania Health System.

Although Penn Medicine's C-suite offices are located a mile away from Restuccia's office, he makes sure to meet regularly with top executives, including the CFO, the CMO, the chief scientific officer and the senior vice president of business development. His approach to governance involves pairing executives and IT for strategic initiatives, and operational leaders and IT for tactical issues.

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