April 20, 2012

Three Big IT Transformation Mistakes That HP Made

HP's IT Department Made Some BIG Mistakes During Their Transformation

HP's IT Department Made Some BIG Mistakes During Their Transformation

If you made three costly IT mistakes would you admit it? I think that most of us would probably say “no” – we’d run and hide our mistakes under a rock somewhere. However, thankfully over at HP they’ve decided to come clean about a few of the mistakes that they’ve made during their multi-year IT transformation project. We can all learn from their mistakes.

HP’s CIO Randy Mott decided to remake HP’s IT department when he came on board a few years ago. In order to kick the project off, they needed to make some assumptions about how things were operating and move forward.

Chris Murphy over at InformationWeek had a chance to sit down with Randy and ask some questions about where HP’s assumptions were just flat out wrong. What he’s learned holds a lot of information for all of us. Here are the big three:

  1. The Secret World Of IT: When HP decided to remake their world of IT, they had to start the process by finding out how big the IT operations were. They grossly undercounted. Going in they thought that HP was using 3,500 applications to run the business. It turns out that they were using more like 6,000. They knew for sure that they had 85 data centers being used by the business. Ultimately, they ended up discovering more than 400 locations where they had massed computing infrastructure.
    Lesson Learned: take the time to do a complete inventory BEFORE you ever start any sort of IT transformation.

  3. Plan For Growth: It sure would be nice if we could freeze time, make changes to our IT departments, and then start things back up again. HP seems to have thought that they could do this because they didn’t remember to plan for acquisitions to occur during the project. Well, you know how this story goes – HP kept buying up other firms and since there was no IT incorporation plan, it caused big headaches for the IT team that was trying to transform IT.
    Lesson Learned: Create a solid process for bringing in new IT departments to any ongoing projects.

  5. Beware Of Success: Once again, the business keeps moving while IT works on its projects. In this case, HP shot past their growth projections. What this ended up doing was pushing the IT transformation project off of its tracks – data centers that were to be consolidated were suddenly needed because they were supporting unplanned for growth.
    Lesson Learned: Make sure that you have a backup plan that tells you what you are going to do if sales projections change from what has been forecasted.

In the end, HP was successful with their IT transformation and they ended up reducing those 6,000 applications down to about 1,500, reducing those 400 data centers down to 6, etc. However, because of the three mistakes that they made, this difficult job was made just that much harder. Now you know – don’t repeat this mistakes!

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