Mikhail Papovsky

Mikhail Papovsky

Founder and CEO of Abraic, Inc. Dedicated to improving the outcomes of IT investments. @MPapov

Blog Posts

It Starts with Intent: Do you want a “throat to choke”—or do you want the project to succeed?

Whenever I hear the expression “one throat to choke,” it makes me cringe. The phrase, in most cases, refers to contracting with a single vendor to help with every aspect of a technology project. Another variation is, “a single wringable neck.” Either way, it sounds like an explicit threat to the vendor: If this project fails, the blame will be placed squarely on your shoulders.

In reality, if a project does fail, it is very difficult to go after a vendor. Most organizations don’t. Lawsuits are risky, costly, and time-consuming. The only practical concession you can expect from a vendor is free labor, hardware, or software. But it’s from the same vendor that botched things in the first place.

Let’s face it—setting up a one-throat engagement is not really a threat. It’s a bluff. And it stems from an attempt to outsource accountability.

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IT Leaders Are Not Quarterbacks

Business leaders are often compared to quarterbacks. A quarterback huddles up with the team before every play so players understand how to execute in an organized fashion. This comparison may work for some team leaders, but it no longer applies to IT.

Why? Because more and more IT functions are being outsourced: data centers, applications, development, help desk, and more. When your team is so decentralized, and often working around the globe, it is hard to huddle before every play.

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5 Risks CIOs Must Assume in the Digital Age

For too many people, the concepts of “acting as a responsible CIO” and “taking risks” are mutually exclusive. A Traditional CIO is accustomed to a world where if nothing breaks, their job is safe. If they don’t touch anything, they can’t break anything. In this paradigm, taking risks is unwise.

In my opinion, rampant risk avoidance is the reason CIOs now lose their jobs at the second highest rate among the C-suite. Inaction—or maintaining the status quo—carries a much greater threat to the CIO (and the organization) than does taking an active stance and assuming the associated risks. In the digital age, where IT is the business, being CIO is like playing quarterback: if you stay in the pocket long enough, you will get sacked. You have to make a move.

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Your first 100 days as CIO came and went. Now what?

Sure, the first days in your role as CIO are critical. Advice abounds in books, blog posts, and presentations for how to approach your initial 90- or 100-day period. These recommendations are compelling and directionally sound. In reality, it’s rare when a CIO nails their first 100 days in perfect form. But that’s ok! The real issue is what you should do after the first 100 days are up.

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The Traditional-Transformational CIO Spectrum: What Type of CIO Are You?

There is a new type of CIO on the scene: the Transformational CIO. Transformational CIOs focus on external customers, innovate, think about the top line, drive business process evolution, and change the culture of the entire organization.

The almost-extinct type of a CIO—one we would all like to forget—we’ll call the Traditional CIO. Little is written about the misery of the Traditional CIO. Traditional CIOs are focused on technology first, take orders from internal customers, don’t rock the boat, and diligently reduce IT spend by 10 percent year over year, using band-aid solutions to keep outdated technology operational.

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sprint-vendor-management

Agile Sprints for Better Vendor Management

Agile is now being used far beyond its original purpose, which was software development. We see organizations apply Agile methodology to any project or program where the end result is a continual work in progress.

Come to think of it, my son and I use an Agile approach when we go fishing. We know we want to catch a bunch of fish, but we don’t know what kind or where, so we move our canoe around the lake all day based on our success in each spot, wind direction, time of day, and other factors.

Abraic exercises an Agile approach for our internal innovation program. Our R&D group is working strictly on a high-frequency, trial-and-error basis in one-week sprints. This minimizes cost exposure and allows us to make adjustments based on the latest findings.

Another area where an Agile approach is very effective is vendor engagement. The predominant practice to date has been to take an ambitious high-level scope and hand it off to a chosen vendor by means of a complex, long, and expensive contract. Yet, there are many cases when the project requires a significant redirection, including changing the vendor, utilizing in-house resources, re-scoping the project, putting the effort on hold, and so on. We end up having a to make a tough choice: make minor tweaks and complete as planned even if it doesn’t match our expectations or try to renegotiate – a lengthy and painful endeavor that may involve legal and oftentimes damages relationships.

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CIOs’ Perspectives on Digital Transformation | Downloadable Premium Content

Intense media coverage makes it seem as though digital is taking over the world and traditional companies are doomed to become obsolete. If you are not confident with your digital strategy and where you stand among your peers, this exaggerated buzz might be daunting. As Mikhail Papovsky, Abraic founder and CEO, concluded at SIM Connect Live in Dallas, the sky is not falling but changes are needed.  Adopting an unemotional, pragmatic approach to digital transformation will allow every organization to survive and prosper.

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