Westjet: Cheryl Smith
1. When Cheryl Smith, the new CIO, arrived at WestJet she was asked by the CEO to advise whether the company had adequate IT or not. What aspects did she assess? What is your view on the strengths and weaknesses of this assessment? What is your view on her resulting priorities?
One of the first things that Cheryl Smith did when she start to work at WestJet, was to bring two performances expects to carry out a benchmarking study with similar companies in the transportation industry. The objective of this study was to compare WestJet’s IT cost, resources and budget to the industry standards. With the results of the study, Cheryl was able to find out that the IT group of the company was technically competent and mostly were since the
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One of the major weaknesses of this assement is the lack of commitment and interest in the company culture to see IT as a necessary element to contribute to the organization goals. The executive directives didn’t even have a report about how was the current situation of IT. Cheryl had to start almost from zero to see what was going on with IT in the company. Additionally, due to the tough current situation about how IT was operating, she had to take some decision such as cancelling the monthly IT planning/budget meeting. This decision might not be welcome by the business unit VPs, aggravating the relationship between IT and the business, and blocking the synergies among the different departments across the company. As parallel, this situation is similar to the case about Jack Carlisle, where he had a take some actions that upset some of the VPs but that were necessary as a first step to align IT with the corporate plan. Additionally, Carly is starting to get deeply into the business units decisions, discussing about focusing on guest services and satisfaction. Business leaders might not be disposed to discuss their commercial planning with an IT person. Besides, the fact that Cheryl is new on the company doesn’t help too much to the situation because she is in a position where she has to prove and convince everyone that what she is talking about is feasible and correct for the business.