by CIO Executive Council

CIO Exec Council: IT Shops Gear Up for Greater Success

Mar 01, 2010
IT Strategy

Three CIOs share plans for moving IT forwardn

James Burdiss, VP and CIO, Affinia Group Intermediate Holdings

Invest for Productivity Gains

Our leadership team has viewed the downturn as an opportunity to invest. As a member of the executive committee, I was in a position to sell the idea of investing in process improvements to drive out costs, which will bring us, when the economy recovers, to an upside that is huge instead of just marginal.

It’s hard to ask to invest, no matter the condition of the economy, but when the people at the top are facing hard choices, you can’t just walk in and ask for a multiyear, multimillion dollar investment of new money without their trust and understanding. To do this investment right, we worked especially closely with the business to develop a road map. We held two multiday workshops with our top 37 executives and the CEO to gather their input and to collectively prioritize every improvement to the business, including those that aren’t IT-driven initiatives. We’re already seeing a huge improvement in processes and decision making thanks to our push to move to a global ERP, which creates a new level of confidence in IT and positions the company far better for the future.

Denise Coyne, CIO, Chevron (CVX) Corporate Dept. and Services

Leverage Enterprise Value

As a company, we spend hundreds of millions of dollars each year to find oil and get it out of the ground, and since none of our competitors are standing still, that level of investment is not likely to change. So our value focus has turned to using IT to improve the quality of purchasing decisions. By bringing planning and approval of all IT spend under one process across the global enterprise, we will be operating at a far higher level as the markets change.

Right now, we are piloting this process within my group, the Enterprise Function IT Team. But each business unit has its own CIO, and shifting all their mind-sets is a real culture change–we are looking to move thousands of people from an environment where everybody was allowed to buy whatever they wanted to one where we are evaluating all purchasing in terms of value to the whole. We are developing a dashboard that will gather this information and allow executives at all levels to make value-based decisions and see the advantages of working together to leverage Chevron’s size and knowledge, rather than planning independently.

To demonstrate how to use this new process, we are seeking out case studies–external and internal–and stories gathered from our executives on value that has been gained through enterprise planning. We are also sharing hard data gained from our pilot in the corporate function, such as the benefits of consolidating enterprise training systems. This project saved a relatively small amount of money, but it demonstrates the efficiencies that will be magnified once everyone is planning and executing in this manner.

Kevin M. Kelly, CIO, BuzzBack Market Research

Prioritize Savings Reinvestment

The business was in a kind of project paralysis when I got here, with no way to prioritize or operationalize the ideas coming out of the new-product development groups. At the same time, like most, our focus was on cutting costs and finding efficiencies. I created a matrix to allow for discussion, evaluation and prioritization of our project portfolio, and started fresh with all of our IT outsourcing contracts by asking for new bids and signing new deals. With this more competitive cost structure, we saved almost 75 percent on what we had been spending, and brought projects to successful completion. We reinvested that money back into IT by creating a new business analyst staff position, a role that has proven to be critical to project success.

With those resources, IT was also able to help create new market research tools, tweak our existing ones and bring them all to production faster than before. These tools are the core of our business, and as the economy picks up and companies seek advice on evaluating their markets, we are coming out far stronger than before due to the reinvestments we have made.

We are also looking closely at cloud computing, which seems like a natural fit–while our surveys must be available 24/7, they don’t use a constant level of bandwidth. We don’t yet know what advantages could be realized in a shared environment, but we now have the resources to find out.

Burdiss, Coyne and Kelly are each members of the CIO Executive Council, a global peer advisory service and professional association of more than 500 CIOs, founded by CIO magazine’s publisher. To learn more visit