Auto Service World
News   July 17, 2007   by Auto Service World

Discipline Key to IT Excellence

Carquest chief information officer Joe Zucchero says the distributor still has a long way to go, but they are well on the way to being a world-class IT organization.
The sheer numbers say the aftermarket has to grow, but we have to meet the customers needs, he told attendees of the Aftermarket eForum in Chicago today.
He says that IT was not a priority until only a few years ago, and that was standing in the way of meeting those needs.
We were constrained by our resources, we were moving people from one project to another. We were always in maintenance mode, unable to invest in the future.
There were individual heroics to be sure, but that was not enough. What has changed?
We have gone to joined project ownership with business and IT. Proactive planning. Enterprise resource planning, not ERP systems, but how those systems are going to be used in the various applications. And getting quality assurance integrated is a work in progress.
The IT department is no longer the business cop telling the business what it was going to get and what it was not. It is a key part of helping Carquest be a class-leading organization.
We have a long way to go but we are on that path. IT is now viewed as a strategic asset.
Zucchero says there are some key initiatives making this possible.
IT Governance: The Business Drives IT, not the other way around
There is a governance council that approves ALL projects. This has been such a successful strategy the concept is being rolled out to product governance examining changes and additions.
–Project Management
Deliver the expected results within budget; the expected timeframe. No more runaway projects.
–Financial Management
A team of financial managers work in the IT department to ensure that the expected results are delivered with the expected budget. The IT financial manager is not the companys financial manager.
–Requirements Management
Clearly define the business needs before diving in. No more Air-Fire-Ready. No more Fire-Ready-Aim. Fallout includes using off-the-shelf software as is, to keep upgrade costs low.
–IT Audits (not witch hunts)
Project management: Assure projects are on track
IT operations: How are we doing against industry best practices?

We are into enterprise solutions, says Zucchero. We just do not have enough money to do them all right now. But, he adds, they will get there.

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