frequently documenting IT performance. It may be easier to
measure the performance of a PM, estimating manager, or
equipment manager, but it’s also important to begin putting
performance goals in front of the IT department. The criteria that can be used to establish annual objectives and performance measures are detailed on page 42.
It’s always interesting to observe the communication gap that
frequently exists between an IT Director and a construction
company President or CEO. Although the language of choice
is English, a communication barrier still exists. Though CFOs
can sometimes act as translators, that should not have to be
It’s not unusual for the IT Director to spend a lot of time living with the technical details of the various issues that need
to be addressed and the decisions that must be made. So,
when it comes time to make the case for significant spending or other resource commitments, the IT Director commonly provides a technical summary, rather than taking an
entirely different approach.
This leads the CEO to ask, “How much?” Which in turn leads
the IT Director to think that cost is the only consideration –
which of course it isn’t; but, it may be one of the few IT questions the CEO knows how to ask.
As an alternative, the IT Director (with help from the
Controller or CFO) should prepare capital and operating
budgets for the year that include expenditures for salaries,
communication, services, software, hardware, and the like.
Once approved, the IT Director should be able to make decisions about purchases throughout the year consistent with
the budget, and should not have to request funding every
time something new is required.
Hopefully, you’ve now developed a new vision of how your
company’s IT department should operate. The transition will
not be quick, so it’s probably a good idea to start sooner rather
Where to start? Give a copy of this article to your IT Director
and CEO, and ask them to read it through and mark those
arguments they agree or disagree with. Arrange for a meeting
to review their reactions and seek common ground. Also, ask
your IT Director to develop an IT plan that includes:
How to Manage
• Details about business direction and objectives;
• Outsourcing options, where possible;
• Capital and operating budgets;
• Primary infrastructure or software initiatives
that are consistent with company needs;
• Staff development plans; and
• The results of a user survey.
You should conduct a user survey annually to measure any
improvement or decline in user satisfaction. Further, pencil
out the IT organization as it exists today and consider some
of the changes covered in this article. Next, diagram the IT
department as it should look three years from now and have
the IT Director begin working toward that structure.
Eventually, consider having the IT Director report directly to
the President or CEO – this will be a good move for all three
of you! ■
CHRISTIAN BURGER is Principal of the Burger Consulting
Group, an independent consulting firm based in the
Chicago area. The firm concentrates exclusively on IT
strategies and tactics for the construction industry.
Christian has worked with contractors for more than 20
years on software selections, implementation management, IT strategy and planning, and evaluation of current
He started his career in construction at FMI as a senior
systems consultant, and has also worked as a Client
Manager for JD Edwards & Company.
Christian is a frequent speaker at industry events and contributes articles on technology in the construction industry
to many industry publications. He also teaches the technology course for Northwestern University’s Masters in
Project Management course through the Engineering
Christian has a BS in Accounting from Ball State University
and a Master of Arts from Northwestern University.