Time is money: What CIOs should know about how they spend their time

Time is money: What CIOs should know about how they spend their time

How you spend your time is more important than how you spend your money.

"How you spend your time is more important than how you spend your money. Money mistakes can be corrected, but time is gone forever."

That inspirational quote jumped out at me after spending the past six months traveling across the country speaking with CIOs about how they spend their time. Two questions from our annual State of the CIO research get at the same topic. As part of that survey, we ask hundreds of CIOs where they spend their time now and where they would like to spend their time in the coming two years.

From the responses to those two questions, I created what I call a Future Priorities Index, which maps where CIOs claim they want to spend more time against where they're occupied now.

Let's take a look.

In the "how they currently spend their time" category, the top three vote-getters are: 1) aligning IT and business goals, 2) implementing new architectures and 3) managing cost control. For "where they want to spend more time in the future," the list looks like this: 1) developing new go-to-market strategies and technologies, 2) studying market trends for commercial opportunities and 3) identifying opportunities for competitive differentiation.

So how do you map your time management to these new priorities? As one CIO tells me, you "staple yourself to an order" at your company. Another says, "Take the VP of sales and chief marketing officer to lunch once a month."

And how do you do that and make sure the trains are running on time? Delegate, delegate and delegate more! Your job as CIO is to get into the field more often so you can bring the voice of the customer to the executive committee's decision table. And to do that job well, James Cash, former associate dean of Harvard Business School, recommends you spend a minimum of 25 percent of your time hobnobbing with internal and external customers. Nothing less will do.

Take this advice on time management to heart during your final budget cycle. Look at areas where you are spending a lot of money but not much time and consider whether you need to reverse that ratio.

Gary Beach is the publisher emeritus of CIO magazine. Email him at

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Tags IT managementmanagementCIO roleNetworkingtime managementManagement | BudgetState of the CIO

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