Leadership

3 Questions: Keeping IT focused during restructuring

Most companies have experienced a restructuring. Here are some tips from the CIO of Agere Systems on how to keep things together for your staff.

By Loraine Lawson

With Ronald G. Roberts, vice president and chief information officer of Agere Systems, a $2 billion semiconductor company

This interview originally appeared in the IT Business Edge weekly report on Aligning IT and Business Goals. To see a complete listing of IT Business Edge weekly reports or sign up for this free technology intelligence agent, visit www.itbusinessedge.com.

Question: Agere Systems endured an extensive restructuring a year ago when Lucent Technologies spun Agere off into its own company—that must have meant a lot of changes in terms of the business's goals and priorities. How did you keep your team focused?

Roberts: Agere maintained a very strong focus on communicating with all employees the changes, reasons for change and the impact. Teams such as our IT organization developed a strong set of goals and objectives that were linked to the business and operationalized to the individual level within each of the functional IT teams. Today, Agere is squarely focused on providing semiconductors to the communications and computing markets. All 7,000 employees are devoted to providing the best total customer experience, which the IT organization helps enable through highly integrated systems, leveraging the best available, cost-effective technology.

Question: What steps did you take during the restructuring to bring IT into alignment with the business?

Roberts: Actually, one of the reasons for our restructuring success with our information systems was the fact that IT and the business were in alignment prior to the restructuring activities. The challenge for the IT team was to effectively respond to the rapidly changing business restructuring activities. At the core of our IT success in effectively meeting the challenges were our strong IT portfolio management and program management processes, which had been established as one of our key IT core competencies. Within the portfolio and program management process, we maintained rigid standards around project management. The portfolio of projects that were established to accomplish the restructuring objectives were joint IT/business projects, integrating required process changes with systems changes. Project success was based on effective execution by an integrated IT/business team.

Question: How has the restructuring affected how your IT organization is seen within the company?

Roberts: The first and most obvious impact is that, along with the overall size of Agere, our IT organization has reduced in size. Our teams are more focused and integrated. We've learned to more effectively leverage our team globally. Every functional IT team is made of team members from the United States, Europe and Asia-Pacific regions, with the management of those teams regionally diverse as well. In addition to increasing the ability of our team to leverage global talents, we have also created a team with a stronger capability of leveraging global time zones in support of Agere's "always on" business process environment.

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