Secrets of a Well Run IT Department

Estimated reading time: 2 mins

Yesterday I offered a challenge I really don’t want you to accept: How Far Can You Drive Your IT Department Into The Ground? There are some pretty dumb things you can do to bring your IT department to its knees. OK – now I know what NOT to do, what instead should I be thinking about?

Once again, I’m going to suggest you read a great post on the Business of IT blog, by Dr Jim Anderson . He is becoming a hero of mine by the minute! This time he shares with us 3 Secrets That Oil Companies Use To Run A Great IT Department , which are the thoughts of Peter Whatnell, CIO of Sunoco.

Whatnell has been CIO of Sunoco’s IT since 2001, right in the midst of the big ‘dotcom crash’, as Dr Anderson explains. Back then, the crash predominantly impacted only IT and didn’t turn into a global recession. The interesting thing about oil companies, though, is that they have become used to (and expect) severe fluctuations in their financial environment due to fluctuations in oil price. You could say that these guys are well used to boom and recession in a tea-cup. They have become very competent in upsizing and downsizing as the market dictates.

Whatnell recognizes that the global recession is putting severe strain on IT departments, and we’re all familiar with the modern mantra of ‘do more with less’. Dr Anderson comments on Whatnell’s acknowledgment that if he had to go back to the drawing board he would consider using services like Google mail instead of his own heavyweight email systems, for example.

To extend Dr Anderson’s post, I believe that IT must challenge the long-lived assumptions that we have to have total control of our apps in order to deliver them securely. Cloud Computing and SaaS are the current challengers to this. As Dr Anderson states, security is the key enabler to support the move to the Cloud, and potential significant cost control. 2009 is the year where this will become real, and IT leaders globally are being forced to initiate projects in this area.

The ‘Secret’ of a well run IT department, today, is about using technology effectively rather than delivering all the bells and whistles a business user can conceive (and probably not use). It has to be about VALUE.

Read Dr Jim Anderson’s post on his blog here:

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About the author /

Simon is a creative and passionate business leader dedicated to having fun in the pursuit of high performance and personal development. He is co-founder of Truthsayers Neurotech, the world's first Neurotech platform servicing the enterprise. Simon is also an Ambassador for Gloucestershire business. Simon is an Associate Member of the Chartered Institute of Professional Development and Associate Member of the Agile Business Consortium.

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  1. Eric D. Brown

    Love this line:
    “The ‘Secret’ of a well run IT department, today, is about using technology effectively rather than delivering all the bells and whistles a business user can conceive (and probably not use). It has to be about VALUE.”

    So true! Many of us forget that. Regardless of the technology and/or whether it is the newest and best technology, it has deliver VALUE to the organization or its worthless.

    • simonstapleton

      This applies to everyone in an organization I guess, not just in IT! The important thing for IT folks is to balance perfectionism and pragmatism perfectly. We can get so anal about technology at times and forget the purpose of it in business!


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