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Harvey Nash/PA Consulting IT Leadership Survey shows IT leaders ready for key roles in economic recovery

18 February 2009

4th Annual Survey identifies improving operational efficiency and competitive advantage through innovation as primary goals of IT leaders.

Primed and ready to contribute, CIOs throughout the U.S. report that improving operational efficiency is the number one objective for their departments in this year’s rough economic environment according to the new Harvey Nash/PA Consulting Strategic Insights Survey - A U.S. IT Leadership Perspective 2008/09.

Commissioned by Harvey Nash USA, a global search and professional talent solutions firm, and sponsored by PA Consulting Group, an independent, employee-owned global management consulting firm, the Strategic Insights Survey - A U.S. IT Leadership Perspective 2008/09 features responses from 321 CIOs and IT leaders on their responsibilities and the issues they face in their companies. This year marks the fourth year for the U.S. survey and the 10th year for the United Kingdom (UK) study by Harvey Nash Group, the global entity.

Top of mind: efficiency and innovation

With 86 percent of all respondents reporting that their Executive Committees see improving operational efficiency as the main goal of the technology function, priorities are clear. For IT leaders that report a desire for more strategic roles in their organizations, 90 percent say that their organizations depend on them to improve competitive advantage through innovation. 

Whether improving operational efficiency or competitive advantage through innovation, IT leaders predicted that they will be asked to do more with less, as one-third already report working with decreased budgets and 22 percent are predicting further cuts in their outsourcing and offshore budgets for 2009. 

“Never has there been a better time for IT leaders to rise to the challenge and make important contributions to business success by tapping their efficiency and innovation expertise. IT leaders who recognize this opportunity to provide strategic guidance will earn the appreciation and respect that they desire from the board and corporate stakeholders,” said Robert J. Miano, Harvey Nash USA President and CEO.

Among several themes covered in the survey, IT leaders report:

IT projects have realized success

Almost a quarter (23 percent) of all IT leaders report that their completed projects achieved excellent results in the last year. Defining excellent, respondents said these projects met client expectations and were delivered on time and on budget.  Another 66 percent claimed good results for projects that met user expectations and delivered within 20 percent of time and budget estimates.   

IT leaders need to be meticulous in managing offshoring partnerships 

Respondents reported a decline of five percent in the outsourcing efforts that met expectations from 2007 to 2008 and a seven-percent increase in the number of outsourcing efforts that failed. Coupled with shrinking budgets, this slipping faith will necessitate that IT leaders manage more tightly these partnerships to achieve value and efficiency.

IT budgets are in decline

The median IT budget according to respondents is five percent of the company’s total revenue. And 34 percent of IT leaders report a 17 percent decline in their annual IT budgets from last year to this year. 

Communications and setting a compelling vision are critical for joining Executive Board

When it comes to honing the skills needed to advance to a board-level position, IT leaders felt the most essential skills for advancement were, in order: communication skills, ability to develop a vision, strategy and planning skills, and leadership skills.

“Today’s IT leaders are veterans of other, recent economic hardships, including the dot-com crash 10 years ago. IT leaders then, as they are now, were under great pressure to drive efficiency, and to demonstrate innovative approaches to stabilizing and growing their businesses.  This group of leaders, who proved their ability to operate under great pressure, are now the valued, strategic business leaders we need to face today’s challenges and to help put our economy back on solid ground," said Doug Plotkin, a member of PA's management group, in the firm's IT Consulting practice.


Harvey Nash USA’s fourth annual Strategic Insights Survey - A U.S. IT Leadership Perspective 2008/09 was conducted online from October 27, 2008, to November 28, 2008. Respondents included CIOs and senior IT business leaders from companies located in or around the major markets served by Harvey Nash: Boston, MA; Chicago, IL; Denver, CO; New York, NY; Parsippany, NJ; San Francisco, CA; Seattle, WA; and Stamford, CT. Survey respondents serve in a wide range of industries: information technology (18%), insurance (14%), banking/finance (11%), health care/medical (8%) and retail (7%).

While Harvey Nash reviews data trends year over year, it is important to note that the number of respondents to this year’s survey is greater than the number of respondents to the 2007/08 survey. In addition to soliciting responses from more IT business leaders, Harvey Nash also notes that many leaders who completed the 2008/09 survey did not participate last year.

Notes to editors

About Harvey Nash USA

Harvey Nash USA is the U.S. division of Harvey Nash, a global professional recruitment firm and IT outsourcing service provider traded on the London Stock Exchange since 1997. Around the world, Harvey Nash is committed to delivering talent and IT solutions to a broad base of clients. The Group is a trusted advisor to some of the world's leading businesses. Operating from more than 30 offices in the USA, Europe and Asia, Harvey Nash professionals pursue integrity and quality in providing a unique portfolio of services: executive search, IT professional services and IT staffing. To learn more, please visit

About PA Consulting Group

PA Consulting Group (PA) transforms the performance of organizations, providing clients with innovative solutions, a highly responsive approach and delivery of hard results. PA is an independent, employee-owned, global firm of 3,000 talented individuals, operating from offices across the world, in Europe, North America, Latin America, Asia and Oceania. The firm has deep expertise across key industries and government, and a unique breadth of skills from strategy to IT to HR to applied technology.

For a copy of Strategic Insights Survey - A U.S. IT Leadership Perspective 2008/09 please visit the Harvey Nash Web site – Print editions may be requested via e-mail to

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