Manageable Chunks

By Stan Gibson  |  Posted 2002-11-18 Print this article Print

Manageable Chunks

In mainstream heavy manufacturing, the budget watchword is caution.

"Its going to continue to be a tough economy. That will influence how many things we do and how fast we go," said Pat Flynn, CIO of Paccar Inc., a truck manufacturer in Bellevue, Wash.

At Paccar, Flynn said, multiyear projects are not on the front burner: "What can we get done in 2003 and not let linger on? Weve tried to carve up projects into manageable chunks."

But Flynn wont be facing budget cuts, as will many CIOs. Hes counting on an IT budget that is at least as large as last years—maybe larger. "The company continues to believe that IT is an important part of value creation," he said.

Still, Flynn is being cautious. "Were not going to go out and hire a bunch of people. Were focusing on things that add bottom-line value," he said.

Rather than launching big, open-ended projects, Flynn is planning to do proof-of-concept deployments in several of Paccars worldwide locations. If they work, theyll be tried elsewhere.

This cautionary approach extends to watching expenses. "Were being smart about managing costs," said Flynn. "We have been using Microsoft NetMeeting much more [than traveling or videoconferencing]. Our videoconference costs are down 75 percent over the last two years."

Flynn is also keeping an eye on which vendors can survive these trying times. "Weve been much more careful about writing contracts. Were also taking a jaundiced look at startups," he said.

Flynn is interested in consolidating servers in Intels Itanium-based clusters. Hes also investing in SANs to conserve data center space.

Disaster recovery figures in his thinking, especially since the Seattle area withstood a major earthquake in February. "That made us look at our disaster recovery plans," said Flynn. "Our previous plan was to put tapes on an airplane, but 9/11 showed that would not work. We may be better off just building redundancy and resiliency in our network."

Even with the near-term focus, Flynn is trying to keep his eye on a more distant horizon. "Its all about extending our corporation up and down the supply chain, the value chain," he said. "How can we provide what our customers need on a global basis?"

Executive Editor Stan Gibson can be reached at

Stan Gibson is Executive Editor of eWEEK. In addition to taking part in Ziff Davis eSeminars and taking charge of special editorial projects, his columns and editorials appear regularly in both the print and online editions of eWEEK. He is chairman of eWEEK's Editorial Board, which received the 1999 Jesse H. Neal Award of the American Business Press. In ten years at eWEEK, Gibson has served eWEEK (formerly PC Week) as Executive Editor/eBiz Strategies, Deputy News Editor, Networking Editor, Assignment Editor and Department Editor. His Webcast program, 'Take Down,' appeared on He has appeared on many radio and television programs including TechTV, CNBC, PBS, WBZ-Boston, WEVD New York and New England Cable News. Gibson has appeared as keynoter at many conferences, including CAMP Expo, Society for Information Management, and the Technology Managers Forum. A 19-year veteran covering information technology, he was previously News Editor at Communications Week and was Software Editor and Systems Editor at Computerworld.

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