James Thew - Fotolia
How does your IT organization portray its mission to stakeholders? We've gathered a sampling of IT mission statement...
examples and how-to advice from around the web to assist CIOs and their staffs in crafting a clear description of their organizations' current and future goals. We've also included a sidebar showing how some of the biggest tech companies in the world describe their missions.
First, here is a brief review of the substance and purpose of an IT mission statement.
What goes into a mission statement?
A mission statement describes the overall goal of an organization. A well-crafted mission statement encapsulates what an organization does, how it does it and why what it does is important. The statement should be brief but meaningful, providing employees, customers, business partners and other stakeholders with a clear sense of the organization's purpose and agenda. As such, the development of an IT mission statement should be undertaken by the IT department's leadership.
Mission vs. vision statements
Mission statements are generally viewed as being separate from vision statements; the latter point to the future state an organization strives to attain. An effective mission statement for an IT organization, however, should reflect the enterprise's vision statement by tying current IT goals to the enterprise's desired future state.
The changing role of the CIO
Learn how the advent of e-business changed the responsibilities of the CIO.
Because mission statements often track and describe mid- and long-term goals, many management experts recommend they be continuously refined.
Why an IT mission statement is important
Bobby Cameronvice president and principal analyst, Forrester Research
Whether IT departments -- or any of an enterprise's departments -- need their own mission statement is a matter of debate.
Bobby Cameron, vice president and principal analyst serving CIOs at Forrester Research, said an IT department that has its own mission statement is, in principle, simply stating it is not up to the job of being an IT department in the 21st century.
"It's almost insulting. The IT mission should be the company's mission," Cameron said. "The more mature an IT firm gets -- the more it transforms into the digital era or the age of the customer, whatever you want to call it -- the more it is in partnership with the business to drive the company's vision and mission strategy."
Instead, Cameron said most of the IT mission statement examples he sees in his work with CIOs use boilerplate language describing IT as a utility and an order-taker for the business.
He is, however, seeing a trend emerging among IT departments that are "behind the digital curve and know it." CIOs of this ilk are adding strong language to their mission statement spelling out IT's commitment to change and the need to invest in emerging technology in order to drive innovation and business goals. "The statements make it clear the IT department intends to keep up with the fast-paced industry it's in," Cameron said. "And that's OK, as long as it's real clear that these changes are in the context of the mission of the business. In fact, it's a good thing."
IT strategist Peter High, writing in The Wall Street Journal a few years back, said that about 50% of the CIOs he counsels have an IT mission statement and the other half do not. He contends that if a CIO has a "well-articulated strategic plan," developing an IT mission statement might not be necessary, but it can help define "another layer of strategic clarity." His rules for writing IT mission statements also stress linking IT's mission to the corporate mission, keeping the statement short but memorable, making the goals measurable and putting a time horizon on it that goes beyond the current year.
IT mission statement examples and advice on how to write them
SOURCE: Baylor University
OFFERING: Baylor University's Information Technology Services mission statement includes a short summary of its mission, a list of the general goals in support of its mission and its annual goals for the year. Words like "innovation" and "empower" in the mission statement signal the department's view of itself as more than simply a reliable enabler of university goals. The section on goals includes soft skills such as collaboration and communication in addition to its technology goals, as well as "respected and professional staff who exemplify leadership qualities." The statement also explicitly ties the IT mission to the university's mission. This is a good model for IT departments wishing to codify their foundational strategic priorities as well as their annual goal posts for improvement.
OFFERING: Microsoft's corporate mission statement focuses on what the company can do for its customers: "Our mission is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more." The mission statement is tied to the tech giant's equally grand vision statement, which also focuses on the human potential: "We believe in what people make possible." The ambitious statements assert the breadth of the company's customers and also put competitors on notice. Lawrence Gregory analyzes Microsoft's mission statement, as well as those of other well-known brands in a series of articles published on the Panmore Institute website.
OFFERING: This "oldie but goodie" how-to article highlights why it is important for IT departments to convey their purpose, services and guiding principles in a mission statement. It includes favorite IT mission statement examples and a five-step action plan for writing one that reflects your department's commitment to furthering your company's mission and vision.
SOURCE: Bard College
OFFERING: Bard IT says its mission is: "To imaginatively apply emerging technologies to advance learning, scholarship, research, artistry and public discourse." This is an example of an IT mission statement that dovetails with the opening salvo of the liberal arts college's mission: "Bard College seeks to inspire curiosity, a love of learning, idealism, and a commitment to the link between higher education and civic participation." The IT mission statement includes a list of eight specific goals.
SOURCE: Base36 Inc.
OFFERING: In addition to offering a peek at Apple's mission statement, this piece details why a mission statement is a critical component in building trust and morale, keeping people in the loop and ensuring that team members are on the same page.
SOURCE: MissionStatements.com: Technology
OFFERING: This website has collected over 1,000 mission statements from organizations across a swath of industries and allows readers to vote on them. In the technology section, the website notes that technology companies "help our society move into the future," and a mission statement "is necessary to help navigate the way" along their often difficult path.
How big tech talks about mission
"Founded in 2004, Facebook's mission is to give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together. People use Facebook to stay connected with friends and family, to discover what's going on in the world, and to share and express what matters to them."
"Utilize the power of Moore's Law to bring smart, connected devices to every person on earth."
"Inspire the world with our innovative technologies, products and design that enrich people's lives and contribute to social prosperity by creating a new future."
"Tesla's mission is to accelerate the world's transition to sustainable energy."
Do you have a favorite IT mission statement or example? Email us at [email protected].
Free IT project management templates for CIOs