by Michael Goldberg

Goals and Action Items Keep IT on Its Toes

Aug 15, 20033 mins
Business IT Alignment

Mark A. Brewer, senior vice president and CIO of Seagate Technology, has five goals for the year. Under each one, he’s got specific action items to accomplish during the year. And all of his 1,000 IT workers can see them.

Seagate, one of this year’s CIO 100 honorees, has implemented an IT tool designed to maintain a clearly defined list of goals for professional employees all the way up to the CEO—in all, one-third of the company’s 45,000 workers dispersed in offices and plants around the globe. Installed as an icon on the corporate portal and tied to an Oracle ERP system HR module, the tool from Performaworks lets an employee see her goals for the year and the goals of her superiors. (For more on Brewer’s management techniques, see “Six Sigma Comes to IT,” Page 87.)

The idea was to align an individual’s objectives to corporate goals (things like “design and implement best-in-class processes that drive revenue growth and reduce cost”), says Karen Hanlon, vice president of HR at Seagate. “Performance management is the most important thing [HR] can bring” to support the company’s move to Web-enable business processes.

AMR Research noted in a December 2002 report that companies are using performance management applications such as Seagate’s as a way to bridge what are typically important gaps between corporate and personal objectives. “It’s not clear to many employees what the corporate strategy is or how they fit into the overall scheme,” the report states.

Hanlon and Brewer—who each have spent time overseas and understand communication challenges for far-flung employees—started looking at the goal-sharing challenge in 2000; by July 2002, they had opened the portal application at to 15,000 colleagues. Managers and their employees get notified if a goal to be achieved is overdue. Each worker has a “watch list” of colleagues within his department who share overlapping goals. The top 20 executives assemble monthly to review their group’s goals.

Hanlon says it’s still early to evaluate the full impact of the Performaworks application. But Brewer, whose goal list includes creating a three-year IT strategic plan, says the system helps him as a manager. “As my staff creates their goals, you find some people write goals very well, others poorly,” he says, adding the system allows him “to take the best ideas and get people to think about what their goals are and metrics for performance.”