Leaders Employ Governance
Getting Down to Business
At AARP (formerly the American Association of Retired Persons), an $878-million nonprofit based in Washington, D.C., governance includes having IT staff serve on key business committees to build close relationships with the executive team. That aligns every technology investment with a specific business strategy, which provides a clear picture of what IT contributes to the organization. "Knowing the issues and cycles, we can serve as consultants to the business," says Tony F. Habash, the director of IT strategy and acting CIO.
Habash also developed an IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL) program to standardize change management, which has improved communication with the business and made SLAs more robust. In two years, the department doubled the number of projects with the same number of staff.
AARP's technology team includes a dozen solution managers who work in specific business units, dividing their time between the areas of the organization they are assigned to and the IT department. "They understand the business and the industry; they're a bridge and an advocate to IT," he says. "The challenge is getting the right people. You can't find them on the street. They have to know that business. And they are the IT point of contact for anything that touches that area."
This was first published in July 2006