In the first week that Cheryl Smith, the new CIO was hired at WestJet when she joined the company, she was directed by CEO John McLaughlin to determine whether the business had an sufficient IT infrastructure.
Assessed Aspects of the WestJet IT Situation
One of the main reasons of WestJet to employ Cheryl Smith was to receive an accurate evaluation of the company’s IT infrastructure. Managers and business leaders didn’t understand the function that the company’s IT team had or its roles in connection with the business objectives of the company. In order to accomplish this, Smith decided to press for solutions that were aggressive. Smith was not afraid of making critical statements and direct changes to the infrastructure. She analyzed some of the areas below (Munro and Khan 2013, 2013):
- Structure for decision-making and operational.
- Budgeting and project management.
- The relation between IT and business.
- Employees’ skills are insufficient.
Following her research, Smith concluded that, although many employees were adept in various IT-related areas but the department itself was not in tune with the business and its goals. There was no well-defined budgeting and project management program and employed an ad hoc method for managing projects and making decisions. These aspects of organizational management are vital in the absence of them, with the department would be struggling to complete any task that was not related to maintenance or minor changes to the existing IT infrastructure, as demonstrated when WestJet was faced with the challenge of having to adapt its systems to international standards.
Assessment Summary and Critique
Smith’s evaluation on the current situation is mostly accurate. The goal of IT isn’t only to keep employees happy and satisfaction, which is what the present infrastructure was able to achieve despite its flaws. It’s also meant to function as an integral component of the company and assist in improving its competitive edge by implementing and enhancing new technologies to meet the requirements of the business. Her plan was to change the current structure to meet these needs (Munro and Khan 2013,). I totally agree with her conclusion.
Justification of the Major Changes in IT at WestJet
As as a CIO, Smith forced many modifications to the current IT structure. For instance the model of governance was overhauled in order to strengthen the connection between the business departments and IT. She created a new structure that divided the homogenous group of generalist specialists . She also introduced the concept of a project budget for each year (Munro and Khan 2013). Instead of having to battle with small projects, The new team of IT needed to complete larger tasks with less frequency. One of Smith’s greatest achievements included the creation of emergency servers that can backup data and provide assistance in the event of a catastrophic interruption caused by natural catastrophes or a system malfunction (Munro and Khan 2013). These changes have improved the efficiency of WestJet’s IT department. efficient, which improved the competitive advantages of the company.
Lessons Learned Based on the Experiences at WestJet
The WestJet case study clearly illustrates the disadvantages of an IT department that wasn’t optimized for a long period of time. While it was adequate to maintain an existing system, the organization was not able in adjusting to the demands of the market for air transport. It had a difficult time tackling any massive task and was resistant to changes when Smith attempted to introduce the new procedures. I learned several important lessons from this study. IT departments must remain in touch to the business units of the company rather than being an isolated, distant entity. It is required to undergo regular adjustments and reorganizations as employees get ensconced in their beliefs and habits without the need for it. Finally, an ad-hoc method will only work with an abundance of highly skilled generalists. A well-organized and well-organized IT department will be equipped to manage complex projects. It is also more easy for HR to identify replacements should they need to.