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Building a Team Through ITSM

Giving the opening keynote at the Fifth Annual itSMF conference, John Heller, CIO of Caterpillar, says ITSM is all about building a team focused on serving the customer.
Sep 19, 2005

Sharon Gaudin

CHICAGO -- Team work. That's what IT Service Management comes down to, according to John Heller, vice president and CIO of Caterpillar, Inc.

Heller gave the opening keynote at the fifth annual itSMF Conference and Expo here Monday morning. He encouraged attendees to reach out to other business units in the company, creating relationships and bridges that will enable every worker to be part of the team that serves the customer.

''It's all about team,'' Heller emphasized. ''It's all about the team over the individual success. Individuals create dysfunctions in processes. The team will create successful functioning. That's what ITSM is all about.''

At Caterpillar, the world's largest manufacturer of construction and mining equipment, which brought in $30.25 billion in revenue last year, it is all about working as a team. The size of the company doesn't affect that, Heller says. ''If one process fails or if one person fails to answer a question or doesn't get the job done, in a matter of minutes the phone rings because it's all broken down,'' he explains. ''IT Service Management is something you have to and you have to do it well just to stay in the game.''

Heller notes that Caterpillar employs 82,000 people so that means there are 82,000 people who can 'screw up' the process.

''Any one of them can screw this up,'' he says. ''What do you mean that person disconnected the router? Who miscoded that one little line? Who made the change without telling anybody?''

Engaging in ITSM will help IT administrators avoid these pitfalls, Heller says. Start thinking about the market and the customer, instead of focusing on the inner workings of IT. Make it all about the business and the customer and the rest will start to fall into place.

''Once you start, don't get soft,'' Heller adds. ''It's not easy. It takes a lot of discipline and hard work. You will struggle and you will fail. Don't let it get you down. Make sure you've got people set up to be successful... Be focused on the customer. An internal IT focus will not get you where you need to be. Be focused on the marketplace.''


Heller also says every IT administrator or CIO needs to know what the critical business processes are in his/her company. ''Do you know what systems are key to keeping your business operational,'' he asked the audience. ''What's key to your customers? You better know what they are, and you better know how to keep them running.

''You're not going to get ITSM by accident,'' he adds. ''It's a lot of hard work.''

And Heller does put in that hard work, staying abreast of any IT problem that pops up at any of the company's facilities.

''I want to know what is going on,'' he notes. ''If a system is down more than two hours, I want to know about it anytime day or night. My beautiful wife of 27 years said, 'I didn't think we were still doing support?' I told her, 'Well, Honey, we are.' ''