Overhauling an IT infrastructure is never easy, but winning over IT staff and business units with an ambitious plan can be nearly impossible.
Dan Traynor, 55, is accomplishing both of those feats as CIO at the Tennessee Valley Authority in Knoxville, Tenn. When business units clamored for new systems, he posed questions like these to leaders: Does it make sense to spend money on something that might be useful for only a year or two? Or would it be better to solve a problem for the long term and in the process get something that provides more functionality?
"Getting people to be rational about that is always a risky proposition," Traynor explains. "It's trying to get beyond the emotion of the moment and think clearly." Ultimately, he persuaded business leaders to put some projects on hold and devised solutions for the most critical problems. TVA officials approved the plan, along with a 10% increase in IT staffing and a 40% increase in funding.
Russ Steward, vice president of supply chain, describes Traynor as reflective, engaging and unrelenting. "Dan brought in an enterprise view to get us all looking at it from a bigger lens," Steward says. "The biggest risk now is keeping up the energy that people feel. Some of that comes from better communication and optimism that we have a plan and people 'get it.' But a lot of it is also that TVA believes that a healthy, high-performing IT organization is a requirement for us to achieve our overall business objectives. That sells pretty well."