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Hefty Hardware Case Bia Example

Autor:   •  May 17, 2017  •  Case Study  •  1,291 Words (6 Pages)  •  276 Views

Page 1 of 6

Step 1: Problems

This case highlights a retail firm struggling to make sense of the increasing criticality of information technology (IT) to the business and the value IT is currently delivering. Torn between “keeping the lights on” and “delivering new products and services to customers”, successive CIOs have failed to connect effectively with their business partners despite seemingly effective relationships at the mid-management level. How to collaborate effectively with the business at all levels remains the key IT challenge. The following are the main problems found in the case and their corresponding symptoms.

  • Problem 1 – The business feels that the IT department does not understand how the business is run.  The VP of marketing, Cheryl O’Shea, feels “IT is a pain in the neck” (McKeen, p.63) and the COO, Glen Vogel, feels it take IT took long to deliver any type of technology to the field (McKeen, p. 63).
  • Symptom 1 – Cheryl O’Shea only hears IT speak in technical terms and does not understand the business, speaking in “technical mumbo-jumbo” and only focusing on technical infrastructure and the not the business (McKeen, p.63).
  • Symptom 2 – Glen Vogel feels that IT solutions do not meet business requirements and when IT expectations fall short, the IT department tells him that new features will be added “to the list for the next release” (McKeen, p.63).
  • Symptom 3 – Farzad Mohammed, the new CIO, feels the current IT problems are more important than sending key IT staff people into the field to understand how the business functions at the stores (McKeen, p.64).
  • Problem 2 – The IT department is having a difficult time connecting with the business as they are too focused on IT operations and failing to communicate the importance of developing IT infrastructure and maturity to deliver reliable IT systems.
  • Symptom 1 – Paul Gutierez, from R&D, is frustrated that the marketing department will not give them the time to explore how Mobile apps might be used in the stores (McKeen, p.65).
  • Symptom 2 – The CIM  project was supposed to create a single customer database for all Hefty’s divisions, but lack of leadership in the both the business and IT failed to establish a whose version of the truth they should use in the database (McKeen, p.65).  
  • Symptom 3 – Both the IT department and the business are not committing their senior employees to new strategic projects so the project teams do not have the expertise required for new projects to be successful (McKeen, p.64-65).
  • Problem 3 – The IT department is failing in developing a long term strategic plan to support the business’s strategic goals
  • Symptom 1 – Farzad Mohammed complains that he does not have the time to put together the strategic IT architecture so they can support new technology initiatives. (McKeen, p.64).

Step 2: Business Impacts

The following business impacts correlate directly to the problems discussed in step one:

  • Business Impact, Problem 1 – The business feels the IT department is not delivering new strategic value to the company.  The IT department is prioritizing current IT operations over developing new IT functionality to move the company forward.  These two items create a breakdown in how IT will deliver new value to the business.  There appears to be a lack of an effective conversion between identifying new IT opportunities and converting and realizing those opportunities with the new savvy stores project.  McKeen (p.6-9) explains that there must be identification, conversion and realization of an IT project to deliver IT value.  Because both the IT department and business are not working together, the value from new IT initiatives are not being realized.  It is both the IT department’s responsibility and business department’s responsibility to work together to deliver IT value (McKeen, p. 4).
  • Business Impact, Problem 2 – The business impact of this second problem is creating a serious communication problem and understanding problem between the IT department and business.  McKeen (p. 25) records that “Poor communication is a constant source of irritation, confusion, and animosity” that can develop into an inhibitor to good business-IT relationships.  This poor relationship will continue to develop and degrade IT’s ability to deliver business value to the company if it is not corrected.  Much of this poor communication is brought on by the changing nature of IT work, the low frequency that IT and business formally communicate, and the attitude the business and IT department have with each other (McKeen, p.28-29).  The business does not understand how quickly IT is changing and the need to continually manage and monitor IT operations.  The IT department does not understand the need of the business to implement new technology to stay competitive in the industry.
  • Business Impact, Problem 3 – The business impact of the third problem, the failure to develop a long term strategic plan, is likely being compounded by the first two problems identified in step and will inhibit the IT department from delivering new IT value to the business.  The lack of a strategic plan will continue to prevent the IT department from delivering value to the business (McKeen, p. 14) and the miscommunication will only make it more difficult to develop a strategic plan.(McKeen, p. 19-20).  It is likely that as the solutions for the first two business impacts are implemented the time and communication needed to develop a strategic plan will available.

Step 3: Recommendations

The two major issues identified in step three are the IT department’s inability to deliver new long term strategic value to the company and the communication breakdown between the IT department and the business which is making the IT/Business relationship ineffective.  The following recommendations address both of these issues.

  • To build better communication, and by extension building a better IT/Business relationship, I recommend the following:  The IT staff must find the time to routinely spend with the business to better understand the needs of the business.  They should focus on learning the language of the business so they can better tailor their communication to the business, so the business can understand them (McKeen, p. 31).  In addition, they should follow a “Thinking, talking and listing” approach as described in McKeen (p. 31) to better communicate with the business on business terms.  This requires both effort and time.  Regularly scheduled meetings with high level employees from both the business and IT are required to make this recommendation effective in resolving the communication and relationship issue.
  • After the communication and relationship issues is being address, the IT department can then begin working on developing an appropriate IT strategic plan because they will better understand the needs of the business.  Based on McKeen’s (p. 16-17) principles, I recommend the executive management of the IT department focus on getting the right people involved in the development of the IT strategic plan and to work closely with their partners in the business to develop an agreed upon approach.  Once the right people are involved, the team can then focus on a strategic plan that can focus in two main areas, business enabling and business opportunities (McKeen, p. 18 – 19).  These two areas need the greatest focus in order to move Hefty Hardware forward with their savvy stores initiatives and other great ideas needed to improve company profitability.


McKeen, J. D., & Smith. H. A. (2012). IT Strategy: Issues and Practices. New Jersey: Pearson


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