ISG Digital Dish Episode 17: The Industrialization of IT

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Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, IT industrialization was already revolutionizing the way we do business. The pandemic has only increased the need for enterprises to improve performance and efficiency to retain competitive advantage. Tune into this episode to learn how a resilient, reliable and optimized IT organization is key to improving service, productivity and overall agility.

Joining host Jeanne Cuff to discuss this topic is Leslie Scott, VP & CIO, IT Enterprise Services at Stanley Black & Decker. Scott shares her experiences and lessons learned industrializing the delivery of IT services and managing a major transition – remotely – during the pandemic. Their conversation covers other current issues common to many global enterprises, including the supply chain crisis, staffing challenges and the future of the workplace.

 


Transcript

Jeanne Cuff

Hi everybody! Welcome back to Digital Dish. For this episode I had a really interesting, albeit geeky, conversation.

Lois Coatney

Well, that is you liked it because you like those geeky conversations.

Jeanne Cuff

I do love geek, I’m sorry I'm such a geek. But I had a great conversation with Leslie Scott she's a CIO, Portfolio and Value Manager of Global IT at Stanley Black & Decker. So that was like, she was awesome to talk to. She had a lot to say. And we talked a little bit, we talked about a bunch of possibilities to discuss and the one that she ended up loving, and I did too, was the industrialization of IT. And I thought, oh, I don't know who's going to love this but me. So, Lois do you know what that means?

Lois Coatney

You know, so I saw the title and I'm like, gosh, Industrialization of IT. The only thing I can imagine is they're really trying to get a very robust way of working. But then I'm thinking, hmm, I wonder because another big concept out there right now is agile, and so I wonder are they probably grappling with you know, they’re a big company, Stanley Black & Decker's huge, so many brands, so many different you know, they do it all right, right. And so, I wonder, is that part of what she's going to talk about?

Jeanne Cuff

Well, yeah, partly and she explains what she means by it, and it really makes sense in the world of the pandemic, but it's really interesting how she takes the approach. And I think it's also interesting for us to think about in the future. Like, what does IT mean to us? Especially with the pandemic.  And it also involves natural resources, capital workers, tech, consumers, transportation; I mean, industrialization of IT really means a lot of things and it can encompass a lot of things, but we are literally experiencing all these things right now. So, I think it's really puts me in the mindset that we really need to start thinking about how do we organize how IT fits into so many aspects of our life?

Lois Coatney

IT is definitely changing these days. So, this will be an interesting insight of how SBD is doing it.

Jeanne Cuff

Right. So, she's been a great conversation and I also hit her up with all the hot buzzwords, “supply chain” and, you know, “how's business doing” so it's really great. And she was really, you know, she was really, really great to talk to because she has great aspects of it.

Lois Coatney

Good, good.

Jeanne Cuff

Enjoy the listen.

//

Hi, everybody. Today I have Leslie Scott from Stanley Black & Decker with me.

Leslie, do you want to introduce yourself?

Leslie Scott

Sure! So, thanks for inviting me here. Jeanne. I'm thrilled to be here. I'm Leslie Scott, the VP and CIO of Portfolio and Value Management at Stanley Black & Decker, the large manufacturing company that many of you are familiar with.

Jeanne Cuff

That is in global IT by the way, it's not just general portfolios. I wanted to mention. We're going to geek out a little bit people, so just giving a heads up. So, Leslie, I know you and I, we talked about a bunch of different things for options of what to talk about. But Leslie when she said the industrialization of IT, I went bingo, that excites me. I'm probably one of like, three people in the world that's excited about it, but I think what we're talking about and you can correct me, I went and looked up because I've done a commoditization of IT,  I've talked about that, but this is IT industrialization and they're saying some of the factors, this is Wikipedia, that influence industrialization, and this is just overall industrialization, natural resources, capital workers, technology, consumers, transportation systems and a cooperative government. I think we could throw in there, pandemic, and what else I was thinking something else, oh, and supply chain. So, I think all those things are part of this discussion. But tell me what you mean by the industrialization of IT.  

Leslie Scott

Sure. So, when we think about Stanley Black and Decker and we've got these factories around the world that are involved in producing goods and services for our customers around the world would love to see the IT shop have the same set of standards, right, that we have a predictable way of delivering our products and services to our internal clients, the consumers across the Stanley Black & Decker business. They know what to get, what they're getting, when they're getting it, how much it's going to cost, and they've got reasonable line of sight and confidence in our estimates. When I think about the complexities of our business, it really is important to have that predictability going out to our different lines of business. We've got, you know, so many different brands when you think about just our tools division alone with Black & Decker, Stanley, DeWalt, Craftsman, right, all these great legacy tools brands. But there's a lot of complexity and a lot of different business needs that we're trying to solve as an IT function. So having that predictable, resilient, reliable IT service delivery is so important to our business customers.

Jeanne Cuff

So, when did you start thinking about this concept and thinking about, or putting into play, some of the challenges for Stanley Black and Decker?

Leslie Scott

Sure! So, actually the notion of industrializing IT predated me at Stanley Black & Decker. So, Rhonda Gass, who’s our global CIO, had brought together multiple different IT functions from across our different business units into a consolidated centralized IT, and had established this strategic goal of industrial IT. So, it proceeded me, but when I arrived at Stanley Black & Decker three years ago, it just is so important to have that reliability, that visibility to my internal stakeholders and where we've got gaps in our labor profile, for example, and may have challenges in executing on our commitments to our business. So, the notion of industrializing IT for a company that is all about being an industrial world leader, just made sense.

Jeanne Cuff

So, what are the challenges that you had in doing this? I would imagine there's some organizational challenges, cultural challenges, as well as some actual, let's talk about it, the elephant in the room, the supply chain.

Leslie Scott

When I think about organizing the IT industrialization, it's all around labor for us and making sure that we've got the right people working on the right work efforts at the right time. So, we needed to get people to tell us what they were working on and track their time to different projects, services, incidents, that sort of thing. We had to know what people were spending their time on. And that requires a commitment from every IT employee to track their time on a weekly basis. That was not entirely popular.

Jeanne Cuff

No, I've tried that in a few places. Yeah, it's a challenge. Yeah. Partly because they're like I'm doing the work. Why are you bothering me?

Leslie Scott

Exactly. And it was, it's a little bit of a chicken and the egg. If we don't know you're overworked, we can't get you more help. So really selling the benefits to the employees about hey, if we know you're working too much, we can get more resources, surged your way. Really by doing list the line managers and making sure that we drove that forecasting of individual's time and then tracking of what actually happened relative to forecast and driving that accuracy into the forecasts.

Jeanne Cuff

So, how have you utilized AI or some automation tools to help you streamline this process and standardize the IT?

Leslie Scott

Sure, I wish I could say that we had a bot that chased everybody and just tracked what they do. We've not quite gotten there yet. There are other parts of Stanley Black & Decker; our finance partners are using AI and robotics to automate processes in really meaningful and significant ways. We'd love to quickly follow on their coattails, but we haven't quite gotten there yet. We have made it easier on people though, to follow along with what we're asking for. We've got mobile, mobile timesheets, mobile timesheet approval and other things that are enabled on folks’ phones to make it easy to do business with.

Jeanne Cuff

Great so ok, so now walk me through how this all impacted you during the pandemic; how that started out. I know we had a little brief discussion about it. I think that everybody wants to know, how are you dealing with the pandemic. In general, for everybody I talk to!

Leslie Scott

Yeah, we had a remarkable year on a number of fronts. 2020 for IT was set out one way and finished another, but with a really fantastic outcome. So, what I mean by that; we were in the midst of a transition from internally managed projects, staff augmentation projects, to a managed services model. And we contemplated that at the beginning of 2020. And we knew the transition would be in full swing, mid 2020. We set our plan we had it in place by February 1st, 2020. And then the world changed. So, hats off to the entire Stanley Black & Decker IT team as well as our partners HCL. We went through the transition 100% remote. No one had ever done that before. We weren't entirely sure it was going to work, but created 6000 plus runbooks had, you know, multiple knowledge sharing sessions with our different constituents all virtually. And this is all work that would have been done on site and in person in you know, the pre times the pre-COVID times, but we did it all remotely. We also had some constraints on the business side in Stanley Black & Decker where there were some cost containment efforts early in the pandemic. So, we had some challenges there. We were trying to manage scheduling and making sure that we weren't bringing in additional folks to help. We couldn't, we didn’t have the luxury of bring additional resources in. But then fast forward to the successful completion of the transition in July and August 2020. And that's when we realized our business was going gangbusters. We had a couple of record quarters. Everybody was stuck at home and wanted to put the deck on the back yard or fix up their home office.

Jeanne Cuff

Yeah, the home improvement.  That was in my list of questions, but I knew that would come up.

Leslie Scott

Yeah, absolutely! So, we went from very much of a defensive, “oh gosh, what's going to happen?” To “ok, we’ve got through the transition remotely, Great! Fantastic!” And emerged into a ton of demand, from our stakeholders for projects, for additional services, right. So fantastic success story for the company and the IT division especially. Lots of hard work.

Jeanne Cuff

That's great. I'm so excited to hear that for you. My question though, is so do you think moving forward the productivity that you; okay, there's two questions on this one, the productivity from going remote, did that improve to get projects done? Or was that pretty much the same?

Leslie Scott

It's tough to tease out what is the benefit from the managed services versus skilling remotely. I will say, my own management by walking around virtually is, I feel like our folks are certainly happier with the remote model. We've done polling on that. Very satisfied with being able to work from home, we provided a stipend to folks for internet and to defray some of the costs associated with that. And then when we look at our project throughput year over year, we were up about 20%. So, we're getting more done.

Jeanne Cuff

So really kind of an increase in productivity. Are you planning to stay with this remote model then moving forward, when and if this is pandemic comes to an end?

Leslie Scott

I know. Right? It's certainly the new normal. The company has taken an overall position. There are some folks that have to be on site. And those are folks primarily in our manufacturing plants who are producing product and they absolutely have to be there in person. There's folks who are kind of in a hybrid model. Those tend to be the sales roles where they're sometimes on site with a customer, sometimes remote. And then the IT departments in the third category which is 100% remote. That doesn't mean we'll never see each other; we’re looking to start getting together in person in the next several months, events not overtaking that. But we are hoping for meetings, team building that sort of thing. And I'm looking forward to getting back to seeing folks.

Jeanne Cuff

Yeah, I mean I think there's a good blend between the two things going all remote, but missing seeing people. It's one thing to be here on a podcast; I see you, you know, and or on a zoom call, but I think it's nice to be in person though. I have to say there's some nervousness that goes. I went to a conference, the sourcing conference that ISG sponsored last week for three days in Texas. I didn't know what to do. You know, there’s all these people. We had outdoor meetings and you know, it was lovely, but it was you know, I've been in a box for 18 months!

Leslie Scott

Right and to put on real shoes and not just slippers I guess.

Jeanne Cuff

Well, I broke my toe, so I got to wear my sneakers; and now I think I'm going to use that as an excuse moving forward. Oh, I broke something. Nobody's going to be surprised.

Okay, so let's talk about, I would think that your business, there’s a lot of stuff in the news talking about the supply chain and how that's constantly, and I know this is really not entirely part of what we were talking about; but I really thought that this is really going to affect you the supply chain challenges. Can you tell me what you're seeing? And how Stanley Black & Decker is handling that moving forward?

Leslie Scott

Yeah, sure. So, our global supply organization, our global supply management organization has absolutely got this supply chain issue on their radar and they're actively managing it. There's, you know, numerous challenges that they're facing and managing through on a daily basis and hats off to them. Tremendous team of professionals. Where we're seeing it in IT is all around the chip shortage and shortage of just equipment and getting that in place. And thinking about, you know, for setting up closing some offices with the goal of setting up you know, regional centres or things like that; we are having to adjust our plans accordingly, based on the availability of equipment. We’ve got to figure it out as a, you know, we all had to come together globally as business leaders to sort this out. It's not just one company in one country.

Jeanne Cuff

No, it's affecting everybody. It's true.

What kind of, like I was thinking about your industry and you're relatively unique in that you don't really, it's not the same for you as it is for many other industries. Only, I know there's big demand, but it's not like medical supplies or anything, but would you say the supply chain affects you just as much? I mean, how would you compare yourself to other industries in terms of getting all the logistics of this in these challenging times?

Leslie Scott

I will say this, I'm proud of our supply management organization's ability to navigate this complex time and I think we're probably doing better than most.  

Jeanne Cuff

Well, that's great.

So going back to the industrialization of IT and getting the standardization; so you’ve had a cultural problem, you dealt with that. So now where do you think you're going for that piece now moving forward? Now that we sort of have sorted out through all the pandemic issues, what do you see you know, throw out your crystal ball, tell me what you're seeing for not just you, but certainly for your company and for other organizations?

Leslie Scott

Sure. So, we're continuing as a company to see the consumers connection with home, right. So, I mentioned that earlier where folks are looking to enhance their home in ways that make it more liveable or functional for them. And we anticipate that trend continuing for the foreseeable future, which is fantastic. That in IT translates to more projects. So, from my perspective and where I sit, I want to make sure that we continue to drive a couple of things. One is making sure we've got a clear line of sight into what's the highest priority for the IT organization to go execute against. Not always easy with a diverse set of business stakeholders like we have, but to have line of sight on what the highest priority efforts are. Even if there’s one person on the business side saying these are your top 10, we need to have a sense of what the highest priority efforts are, so that we can get the right people working on those projects.

Jeanne Cuff

Well just real quick, you do have a diverse set of stakeholders. You have the retail stores, you have retailers, you have your internal groups, you have your contracts. So how do you manage that?

Leslie Scott

So, with the different lines of business, we have a business CIO that sits with each of those. So we have a CIO who is accountable for global tools and storage, someone who's accountable for our industrial divisions, right. So there's a senior IT leader who sits at the table of each of those different presidents. And then we create an IP portfolio that leverages the shared services from the centralized IT department. And we need to have a clear set of priorities and principles that we use to manage that portfolio. And the reason I say that is we don't have unlimited talent and we've got to manage, it's always the key groups, you know, a year over year that we continue to see, you know, everybody wants them on their projects. The folks who are experts in certain types of SAP, for example, everybody wants that group to work on their projects, and we need to manage that set of resources appropriately. They're constrained and we need to focus them on where we're going to get the highest return for our stakeholders.

Jeanne Cuff

Now, I'm hitting you up with all the big elephants in the room. What about the great resignation? Has it hit you? Has it hurt you?

Leslie Scott

So it's something that's certainly top of mind as a leader? Right?

Jeanne Cuff

We just certainly talked about labor. So Yeah, certainly.

Leslie Scott

Right, it’s definitely top of mind. I think we have a good corporate culture at Stanley Black & Decker. And a good culture within IT. We are generally hanging on to our folks, which I think is great. A hard effort to fight. We know that that's not a once and done, you've got to continually win your employees hearts, right. That's an ongoing thing. We are looking externally. When we look at our partners and we're seeing them see various profound challenges in some of the areas. There's some skill sets that it's just almost impossible to find folks to come and work on your projects. So that's where having that prioritization is really important and understanding where you've got to really get ahead of the hiring curve. And especially if there's a challenge, you know, within your work that’s multiplied externally.

Jeanne Cuff

Well, we hear a lot about the great resignation, I certainly know in the US. But you're a global company. Are you seeing the same trends elsewhere? Because I know you said there's certain areas that are constrained or is that part of US or is it globally you're seeing those labor challenges?

Leslie Scott

Seeing it more skillset based. And the nice thing about being a remote organization is we do have access to global talent now. So, where my team was previously primarily based in Connecticut, or Baltimore, which are two major hubs, I got folks now in the Midwest, and you know,

Jeanne Cuff

Yeah, because they could work from anywhere. I love the fact that that is, this whole great resignation, it's like, but you're not understanding that. That maybe you know, it's a bigger pool to pick from as long as the skill sets are there, and that's always a challenge.

Well, anything else you wanted to say? Because this has been a great conversation. You know, I'm a little geeky, but I wanted to take it to the organizational section. And I really appreciate you letting me throw a lot of questions because your business is such that this is a great conversation to have. because all these things, the pandemic, are affecting your company, everybody's company, but I really feel like you've got the upside with everybody doing home improvement, and then the downside supply chain and labor shortage. So, I really appreciate you let me throw questions at you like this Leslie.

Leslie Scott

Sure. Thanks so much. It's been great talking to you, Jeanne.

Jeanne Cuff

It's been a talking to you too. Thank you so much.

Leslie Scott

All right.

Jeanne Cuff

Bye. Bye

Leslie Scott

Bye. Bye

//

Jeanne Cuff

So that was an interesting interview well, for me, because I'm a geek, but I also think it's really interesting how she was really talking about some of the things in IT, that you have to organize your projects and put them in order, but what you guys took away from it is really what interests me on this. And today to our outro we have Lois, of course, and we have our new host for next year: Missy Lawrence Johnston, who is the human side of digital. Well, that's her that's her jam. So

Missy Lawrence-Johnston

That's my jam. Yeah.

Lois Coatney

Well, I was so excited to hear Lesley. I don't know if I told you this Jeanne, but actually Leslie was my client a number of years ago at a past client of hers, which I won't mention on the air. But anyway, it was really great to hear her voice.

Jeanne Cuff

Well she's our first client interview too, by the way on the show.

Lois Coatney

Oh, that's true. That's true. So she's been a client of ISG multiple times and glad to see her at Stanley Black & Decker. So you know, I found it as I was listening the interest about this is a huge company, right that does manufacturing, and has all the issues with supply chain, all the issues of a consumer product and oh, by the way, their business went up like they were like trying to figure out how can they meet all these demands, as everybody was, you know, adding on to or redoing their house. So I found it interesting, appears this massive company and how do they respond? How do they respond in this very dynamic environment? And being in IT we always think, you know, kind of traditional IT is standards, you know, we need to have a you know, certain processes in place and we all need to, you know, have clear roles and responsibilities and I think she spoke to the fact that she needed those standards and a solid line of sight to her portfolio. But then what was like kind of buzzing in my ear is Yeah, but what about agile and you know, when we talk about agile and I know that, you know Missy spends a lot of time in the space, so I’m curious of your thought about when you're agile, you're supposed to be working a lot more with a lot of flexibility and be able to change if things change around you. And it's like, what is it is it this like, there are two pieces of that seesaw, right? Like what are you gonna do and I'm I curious what spoke to you because I didn't really hear her talk about agile but how does that weave in.

Missy Lawrence-Johnston

I know it's like it's almost like now it's like the a word is a bad word or a word or a word. People think they know what you mean by agile and then in their mind, they go down this other track and I feel like maybe we just try to stay away from it. When we talk about like capital A agile enterprise agility, and flexibility to be nimble enough to move at the speed and pace of the business, which is actually at the speed and pace of the customer or the consumer, different than software development lifecycle, right lowercase agile, so I feel like exactly the same way, Lois, what she was trying to hit on was the fact that you have to align the way IT likes to work to the way the business is connecting with the customer. So, you're getting IT connected closer to the consumer okay, we call that shifting to the left, more so than just thinking about how IT likes to work, plan, build, run, monitor, right, bring fixes. It's a different mindset and I think that industrialization is getting IT connected to the way organizations are industrialised, right, I'm doing air quotes for those who can't see us.

Lois Coatney

Ok! And that's, that's amazing, because she talked about the portfolio that the business needs, so it seemed like her when she talked about her line of sight, she needed to, I think she talked about prioritization, right? How do you prioritize when there were so many things being thrown at them, right? How is she going to do that prioritization? So, I guess that's where agile comes in to really, you got standard you sit on, but it allows you to move to what's most important.

Missy Lawrence-Johnston

Yeah ,I think of the history of like, agile, you know, over 25 what 26 years ago now, a bunch of dudes got together, went to Utah got on a summit and said, This is our manifesto. And now there's modern agile like I encourage everyone to go check out modernagile.org That’s distilled all that down to make people awesome. But in that journey, you had this shift of figuring out not just how to get software out every two weeks, but how to really be flexible and nimble and I think that's what she was really hitting on is truly being agile really does mean I understand the customer, I understand the consumer, I understand what they need, and then my development is based on that need. I think that's the industrialization of IT now, it’s really just getting it aligned to consumerism.

Jeanne Cuff

From an IT perspective. You know, I think I T people have always found Agile to be challenging because they see it as chaos. Oh, there's all this feedback. And these are all the customers going to tell us what they think and how do we work in that environment? And I think the pandemic has sort of forced, you know, because I mean, literally, the what she talked about all the things that affected us through the pandemic it’s supply chain, it's pandemic, it's everybody locked down, it's remote. I think all that has sort of forced IT. And having leaders like her is really great, because they're gonna say, Okay, we need to organize this. And there has to be that feedback because well, that's how we have to respond to your point. That say, I think absolutely,

Lois Coatney

Well, it really, it helped us sit back and think of all the different companies out there who've had to go through this journey. Every company had a journey that they needed to go through, whether they're big or small, or you know, in manufacturing or you know, a services-based company. Everybody had this amazing path they needed to go through. And what it sounded like from her is as a leadership team, they got together and they said, This is our path. This is how we're going to work. This is how we're going to make sure that we can keep all the engines going. And I thought that was just really amazing to hear and just think how we all learn from that and we take that forward.

Missy Lawrence-Johnston

You know, Lois, I'm thinking about my clients that I've had this year alone in the past six to eight months, the banking and financial services industry, and insurance. In their experience. I've helped them with productization. They're no longer being compared to other banks or banks that have better apps they're being compared to an Amazon. And they’re like “I’m a bank, you want me to productize and understand…like this is different.” And health care and life sciences right in the wake of the pandemic and the focus on just safety and security and health and wellness. Those have been the biggest clients. And so from an industry perspective, in addition to manufacturing, that I know for sure, looking at productizing the way IT is connecting with the consumer and with their internal customers, the business.

Lois Coatney

Well, you know what that sounds like a great next or future episode.

Jeanne Cuff

I was just thinking that: how does the pandemic change IT the way they're functioning?

Lois Coatney

And in the industries like just think about healthcare. Think about the amazing trajectory healthcare is going to go with the consumer being you know, it's getting much more diversified, very much focused on that consumer. And IT has a big role in enabling that to happen. So, I think there's lots of  paths we could go down in different industries and figure out where the next phase is going to go.

Missy Lawrence-Johnston

For sure.

Jeanne Cuff

Okay!

Lois Coatney

So there you go, Jeanne.

Jeanne Cuff

Now I’ve got to go find somebody.

Lois Coatney

Go find someone

Jeanne Cuff

I can find. I find smart women all the time. So that's great. It's so easy.

Lois Coatney

Well good luck!

Thanks. It was great to hear from Leslie. And thanks for doing that. Thanks for having that great conversation.

Jeanne Cuff

Thanks, you guys. Thanks for your insight. I think that's really helpful. All right. Talk to you guys. And we'll see you next month in December.

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About the authors

Lois Coatney

Lois Coatney

What she does at ISG

Lois Coatney has been the ideal guiding advocate for her Fortune 500 clients, whom she has consistently helped get the most value out of their service providers and supply bases. That’s because, for more than two decades, Lois was the service provider. Today, as ISG’s President of Americas Sales, she is central to driving the firm’s revenue and growth.

Past achievements for clients

Throughout her career, Lois has consulted clients on their operating models and organizational designs so that they can work most effectively internally. She’s pivoted that experience to her approach to her current role, which goes much further than looking at the numbers and bottom line. She examines what ISG’s strengths are and considers how the firm can put its best foot forward to sell its services. Pairing that with a deep understanding of clients’ needs and of ISG’s function in the market, 
Lois makes decisions on how the firm can enhance those same offerings. She also views her work as a worthwhile means to strengthen ISG’s client relationships, which she contributes to by mentoring ISG account executives. 

Lois’s expertise in contracting, experience in supplier management and willingness to travel across the globe to create something new and modern have enabled her to:

  • Lead and roll out ISG GovernX®, a tool that directly helps clients and their businesses manage third-party risk, solve governance and service integration challenges, and drive optimal performance of their sources. 

  • Help a large governmental client migrate their $2.2 Billion annual IT spend to a consumption-based procurement model.

Lois’s current title may include “Americas,” but her prowess in service provider performance and relationship management, IT portfolio design and management and product ownership over the past 30 years has made its way all over the world to support nearly every industry ISG serves.

Jeanne Cuff

Jeanne Cuff

Jeanne Cuff is an Associate Director in the Governance Services-Managed Services organization who brings a broad set of experiences to support ISG clients. Jeanne has over 20 years of senior leadership and consulting roles in operations, human resources, network and SaaS.

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