Chris MurphyEditor, InformationWeek
10 Lessons In IT Strategy From Ex-HP CIO Randy Mott
4. "Time Doesn't Make It Better"
Another point related to speed: Mott is loath to extend a project deadline. "Time doesn't make it better," he said in 2008. Mott set a three-year target for HP's IT transformation. But the company grew markedly during that time, in organic sales and by acquisitions, so he felt he could have convinced his executive council peers to give him more time. But he didn't try, despite the fact that hitting the three-year goal took a serious toll on the IT team. Mott offered two reasons. First, extending the deadline would've hurt IT's credibility. Second, there's no telling what else might come up if he gave the team another year. Like having to integrate EDS, which HP acquired in August 2008? "EDS would be a very good example," Mott said in 2008. "Four years would've turned into five."
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5. "Choosing Is Losing"
This one always struck me as the toughest sell among Mott's ideas. He contends that if a CIO sets out to transform the organization, he or she must go after all the major changes at once. For HP, there were five big areas--portfolio management, IT workforce effectiveness, world-class IT organization, global data center consolidation, and a single enterprise data warehouse.
Most execs would be inclined to pick those off sequentially to lower the risk. Mott's answer: "Choosing is losing."
The Mott-led IT transformation at HP did yield results in terms of cost savings, and started to do so beginning in year one, not just at the end. Nevertheless, a CIO pitching something billed as a three-year transformation that comes with a big capital investment (about $1.7 billion, in HP's case) is a bet-your-career move.
Yet Mott only got more adamant on this point as time went on. Do only part of the transformation, he warned, and "the parts you don't do will undermine the parts you do."
6. No Software "Enhancements"
Mott's team at HP tracked time spent on new development versus time spent on support of existing applications. The goal: Shift staff time toward new development while automating as much legacy support as possible. One frequent sticking point: There was no middle ground of "enhancements" to existing apps. Either it was a new project, with a priority ranking, a cost-benefit analysis, and a business unit backer, or it was support of an existing system or application.
Tracking support costs was a key element in Mott's often-unpopular effort to slice HP's application portfolio. Business unit leaders and employees aren't keen to hear that software that's working for them is getting eliminated for the greater good of efficiency and consolidation. Mott saw tracking the real support costs as IT's best chance. "It becomes easy to make an unpopular management decision when you have facts behind it," Mott said in 2008. "Most management decisions are unpopular to start. People don't want to change."