Swainson Restores Focus to CA

CEO distances company from past troubles.

In launching the new organizational structure at Computer Associates International Inc., CEO John Swainson is making his biggest mark yet on CA, as he works to leave behind the software developers troubled past. With five months at the helm, Swainson has moved swiftly to bring growth and focus back to CA, in Islandia, N.Y. He detailed the reasons for the changes and discussed issues left out of the launch with eWEEK Senior Editor Paula Musich.

There was no mention of Mark Barrenecheas role in the reorganization. Are the rumors that hes leaving true?

His role is not changed. He continues to be the executive vice president and chief technology architect, reporting to me. Hes very involved with helping us figure out who to buy, why to buy and what strategic partnerships to make.

Will each business units general manager be responsible for acquisitions in their respective space?

They will be responsible for the strategy in their space. We have an investment committee comprised of myself, our business development executive [Michael Christensen], Mark Barrenechea and our CFO [chief financial officer], [Robert Davis], who decides whether we will do the acquisition. But it is up to the business unit executives to bring them forward and show what the benefit would be.

What assurances can CA give customers that CAs Products Group and the products that are a part of it wont be treated as a poor stepchild in terms of R&D and further development?

I think that it would be a mistake to think of it that way. My reason for putting these products together is to avoid that problem and to have one place where I have a management team very focused on sustaining those products—maintaining high levels of customer satisfaction instead of putting them in a business unit where they would get lost or treated as cash cows. We will have specific measurements in place to ensure these guys do the right thing.

I would anticipate that the new BSO [Business Service Optimization] organization will need to work closely with certain of the other units—Enterprise Systems Management, for example—to be effective. What processes or controls will be put in place to ensure they work synergistically instead of at cross-purposes?

In designing this business unit structure, we designed it in such a way that general managers have responsibility for growing their business, but they have horizontal processes to look across all the business for consistency in architecture and strategy.

The CTO [chief technology officer], [Yogesh Gupta], has the common technologies that get used for all the business units. We have Rob Levy and his technology strategy organization thinking about how our products are going to evolve. Guy Harrisons development operation is putting in place common development build processes well use across the organization. [Executive Vice President] Russ [Artzt] and I will ensure that things remain on an even keel.

How will the sales organization work with each of the new units?

There were sales specialists in place before. There will be specialists focused on each of the four growth units, and a fifth group of specialists—business managers—will be there along with the generalist account directors or sales executives.

There will be some hundreds of software specialists per business unit focused on the business unit products.

One of the missteps that Hewlett-Packard Co. made with its growth strategy was due to implementation problems in a new ERP [enterprise resource planning] system it put in place. I understand CA is also implementing an SAP AG ERP system to give business managers a better understanding of their business. How will CA avoid making that same mistake?

I dont know the details of what HP did right or wrong. We have a very strong team implementing this. Theyre doing it aggressively but with an eye toward the fact that we know these kinds of things can happen. We are using SAP out of the box, using the standard template SAP uses for software companies. We are largely implementing SAP the way SAP did internally.

I believe the way people get into trouble with SAP is they customize it heavily, and then its hard to modify over time.