CIO Strategy Tips From Randy Mott

by drjim on May 16, 2012

Image CreditRandy Mott is a CIO who knows a great deal about strategy

Randy Mott is a CIO who knows a great deal about strategy

You wouldn’t think that a CIO who just got fired from his job at HP would have a lot to teach us about IT strategy, but that’s where you’d be wrong. Randy Mott is a CIO who has been around the block a few times. He’s worked for Wal-Mart, Dell, and he was CIO at HP. When HP’s CEO, Mark Hurd, got fired Randy had to go because he was too close to Mark. However, that all doesn’t mean that we can’t learn a thing or two from how Randy runs an IT department when he’s in charge…

IT Projects Have To Deliver Results

The IT department is a cost center, right? This belief is almost built in to everyone’s definition of information technology. It can’t be expected to actually “make” money can it? It turns out that if you make the effort, you can measure the money that the IT department brings in for the company. Mott believes that for the 12 months after an IT project goes live, the benefits of that project should be measured in both hard dollar and intangibles. How to measure the value of an IT project should be agreed to by the business unit leaders and their finance teams before the project is started so that there is buy-in on the numbers.

Technology moves fast. This means that new technology is always showing up and if the IT department isn’t careful, they’ll be seen as a roadblock that is standing between a new technology and the rest of the company.

IT needs to develop processes that allow it to get new technology out into end users hands as quickly as possible. It doesn’t have to be a company-wide rollout, a trial to evaluate the new technology will do. However, the IT department needs to clearly show that they are out in front of evaluating every new technology.

Finally, I think that all IT departments suffer from the same problem – we seem to try to take on too many tasks all at once. Randy Mott believes that this is a key reason why so many IT projects end up failing. His approach is to have an IT department work on fewer projects, but to have them finish them faster. While Randy was running the IT department at HP they were able to get their average IT project delivery time down to 6 months.

Time Can Be An IT Project’s Greatest Enemy

If you can think back to the last IT project that you worked on, at some point in time you probably wished that you had more time. I know that I have. It’s a good thing that we didn’t work for Mr. Mott. He believes that if you give an IT more time to complete a project, you won’t get any higher quality. He also believes that not delivering an IT project on time hurts IT’s credibility with the rest of the company.

Everyone in the company always wants the IT department to do everything all at once. This means that the CIO often has to make some painful decisions – what areas are going to take priority over the others? Randy took a bold path when it came to this: he moved forward in all areas at once. It was his belief that if he chose one area to focus on, he’d end up not meeting the IT department’s customer’s needs. A great deal of risk is associated with this decision, but if you can pull it off you’ll come away with everyone viewing you as a hero.

What All Of This Means For You

Randy Mott certainly has a great deal of experience at how to do the job of being a modern CIO. He seems to have a bit of difficulty hanging on to his job, but that doesn’t mean that he can’t teach the rest of us in the IT sector a thing or two about how to be a successful CIO.

Randy points out that IT does bring in revenue for the company, we just need to find out how to measure it. He believes that it is IT’s job to deploy new technology as quickly as possible and that this should be done by working on fewer simultaneous projects, but finishing them faster. Finally, Randy does not believe that having more time makes an IT project any better and he thinks that taking too much time to make a decision on what to work on can cost the company time and money.

No, you don’t necessarily have to agree with the way that Randy chooses to see the world. However, due to the importance of information technology I do think that we should all understand why he sees it that way. He’s been on the front line of this CIO thing and so he’s got a pretty good understanding of what the job requires. Give it some thought and then keep your eyes open – Randy might be working at your company next!

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World IT Department Leadership Skills™

Question For You: Do you agree with Randy’s view that all IT projects should be worked on simultaneously or do you think that they should be done sequentially?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

You wouldn’t think that a CIO who just got fired from his job at HP would have a lot to teach us about IT strategy, but that’s where you’d be wrong. Randy Mott is a CIO who has been around the block a few times. He’s worked for Wal-Mart, Dell, and he was CIO at HP. When HP’s CEO, Mark Hurd, got fired Randy had to go because he was too close to Mark. However, that all doesn’t mean that we can’t learn a thing or two from how Randy runs an IT department when he’s in charge…

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