How to make the Information System Department of t

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How to make the Information System Department of the company play its potential

this article introduces the successful experience of how the chief information officer of Toyota applied her whole set of solutions to the reconstruction of the information system department. Through this achievement, she regained the trust of the company

Toyota Motor USA sales company, headquartered in Torrance, California, USA, has a circular trimmed green land, which separates the office building of the information system department from the headquarters of the company. A stream meanders through the green land with blooming flowers and lush pine trees, and another path with a terrace connects the two buildings. For many years, this is the only thing shared by the two buildings

for the senior executives of Toyota Motor USA sales company who can gaze at the opposite data building through the garden, the dark black window opposite is a symbol of the opacity of the information system. These senior managers feel that the response of the information system is very slow, and they don't know where the money invested in the construction of the information system has gone. It's like floating in the water and disappearing without a trace. "One of the complaints about the information systems department is that we spent so much money on information technology projects, but the company was disappointed with the results of the projects," recalls Bob Daly, deputy director of Toyota customer service, Projects that have not been implemented well - such as the ERP system implemented by PeopleSoft that exceeded the scheduled construction period and a delayed parts inventory management project - have led to groundless accusations between the two parties

at the same time, behind the black glass of the data building, the employees of the information system department led by Barbra Cooper (CIO of Toyota Motor Sales Company) are struggling with a project spanning six enterprises, and are almost suffocated. This project called "big six" includes a new external ERP system for Toyota dealers and Renke, as well as four new systems, which are respectively responsible for order management, part prediction, advanced license management and financial document management. Surrounded by so many systems, the team in the information system department made a mistake. They didn't explain what they were doing to the company or how much money they would invest to achieve the goal. This is a typical case of expectation error and collaboration failure

by the end of 2002, Cooper realized that if she wanted to regain the respect of the company and continue to maintain her position, she must take big measures. In a conversation with the CEO of Toyota Motor sales company, the CEO once asked her about the information system slope "gathering high-end materials to show the source of quality" -- the very high cost curve of Shanghai aluminum industry exhibition

you know, in her 30 years of information technology experience, Cooper has become famous for being able to deal with the chaos that other CIOs can't deal with. Now, she must carefully examine the current situation and change her own ideas. Fortunately, in the summer of 2003, she already knew where she should start

next, let's introduce how Cooper completely overturned the structure of Toyota Motor Company's information system within six months, making the functions of the new information system department closer to the daily operation of the company. This process is very painful: she changed the work of employees in the information system department, exposed all the shortcomings of the information system, and forced her employees to enter the office of the business department

however, the new plan has only been implemented for more than a year, and the information system department can work side by side with the business department to plan and implement information system projects. And Cooper is still the chief information officer of Toyota Motor U.S. sales company

those unbearable days in the past

when Cooper joined Toyota Motor Sales Company at the end of 1996, she received a cold welcome. This is because, in a company that attaches importance to rewarding employee loyalty, she is considered unlikely to succeed. Employees who have "only" five years of service experience for the company, including chief financial officer Tracey DOI, call themselves "recruits"

but now, the collaboration between Tracey DOI, the chief financial officer of Toyota, and Doug Beebe, the information officer of the finance department has yielded fruitful results. They sometimes finish each other's work and seem to have a deep trust between them

in the past, Cooper was surprised to find that the company's information system was so isolated and primitive. "I think it's an antique from the 1970s," she said. All business units are purchasing their own information systems, because internal information technology personnel cannot complete this work. There is no personal computer and network management in the company. Moreover, basic information technology training, such as business relationship management and financial management, is also very scarce. "No one understands how much it costs to complete an information system." She said

during the short meeting with the business manager, the staff of the information system department worked more like a "housekeeping clerk" than a partner who "let's work together to determine a solution". In order to solve this problem, Cooper has installed relationship management managers in every business department that is unable to make any substantive changes

what's worse, the company's senior managers only approve information system projects and allocate funds according to their preferences, and never consider architecture standards, system integration or business benefits. "Everyone around who has new ideas will go to the information system department with full ideas to find the person they are most familiar with." DOI recalls

before Cooper changed this situation, she found herself and her staff under the heavy pressure of the big six technology project. Moreover, Cooper's senior managers do not seem to control the cost of those large projects at all. When Cooper hired Ken goltara, the company manager who manages the company's information system, which "we improved the heat dissipation performance of shoes with a little graphene (about 1%), in 1997, and was asked how his new job is going, he said," it's very good. People never ask me how much these things cost, they just ask me when I can use these systems. That's the only thing people care about. "

How did Barbra Cooper propose a plan to save the information system department

how can we make great changes in information technology without causing downtime or panic

Daly of Toyota customer service department said that from the perspective of the company, most projects begin with a vague statement of what the new system should do. Then, when the project can not meet their expectations, they will feel very disappointed

jim Farley was the general manager of the Midwest of Lexus company in 1999. He recalled their anxiety about the dealer's daily management system. This is an external system that allows dealers such as Toyota and Lexus to contact Toyota's headquarters, factories and other departments of the company. Lexus was very anxious because the system first shown earlier did not work well. The information system department also did not provide sufficient training to dealers to teach them how to use the new system, so they will naturally have problems in use

"we were all so nervous," Farley recalled. "Although people (dealers) didn't like the old system (a satellite based as/400 system), they were also quite afraid of the new system." Farley said. As a result, the information system department noticed the lessons learned in the first demonstration in Toyota, and it was much smoother when it did the first demonstration for Lexus in 2002

huge pressure

since 2001, senior managers in Japan have felt the huge pressure brought by the shrinking domestic market and the cold global market response. However, Toyota Motor sales in the United States has achieved growth in sales and market share. Therefore, the Japanese headquarters need to rely more on the profits of its companies in the United States. The parent company's attention spans the Pacific Ocean and begins to pay more attention to the consumption habits of the United States

all domestic business departments soon felt the pressure from senior management. This is a heavy blow for the managers of the information system department. Goltara said, "they don't know what happened, they just know it's a big deal."

managers in the United States and Japan want to know more about the problem of runaway information system costs. When Cooper took office, the problem has become more serious. Yuki Funo, President and CEO of Toyota Motor Sales USA, wanted Cooper to tell him how much the investment in information system was. He said, "does everything in information technology have so many challenges? Oh, my God, that's a considerable cost!" Cooper has fresh memories of this

at the same time, she can no longer ignore the complaints of ordinary business employees of the company in the opposite building. For those employees, information systems have become unresponsive and bureaucratic machines

therefore, Cooper began to let business personnel give informal feedback on the situation of the system on a large scale. She found from the feedback that "this is a very painful problem for both the employees in the information technology department and the employees in the business department". She said: "it is obvious that we have not conducted enough communication and training."

at the end of 2002, Cooper hired an external consultant to interview 20 top managers of Toyota Motor Sales USA. She would like to know what these people really think of the current system. Although the results did not answer all the problems of the information system, she saw the focus of the problem. "Part of the result of the survey is that the current information system makes people feel as uncomfortable as avoiding the late quality defects, but you can't be the CIO, so you don't need to face these problems directly."

the vision of the information system department

cooper's unique way of speaking with a unique accent in the Midwest was actually learned unconsciously during her youth as a soldier. This way, you will feel that every word coming out of her mouth is considered. That's a sign of her seriousness. She is also a particularly greedy person for reading. Her employees said that she would often be immersed in the articles of business magazines on their desk, and would forward important information technology research results to them by email

therefore, no one was surprised when Cooper spent a lot of time in reflection in 2003 and put forward her vision for the new information technology department. What she wants to develop is a decentralized and transparent information system organization strategy. Such an information technology department should focus all its energy on its main business

in the summer of 2003, she summoned her senior information system staff to the conference room and wrote down her vision on the whiteboard. one

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