Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Visions of You

Redeployment announcements are done, and we're just starting to see the gaps appear. One issue with this type of redeployment - skills based, done group by group - is that you can't see what the impact will be until you look at it in totality.

For a period of time I lived in desert town that would occasionally restrict water usage. They would require a household to use no more than 90% of the average for the previous 6 months. This system rewarded people for wasting water and penalized those who were already conserving. Most groups in IT seem to have taken a 7-10% reduction in the recent redeployment action. But some groups were already getting thin due to attrition. Going down another 10% in a group that was just barely hanging on is beyond unreasonable. These are groups that were not permitted to backfill people who left over the last year. The groups already in trouble seem to be ones that were hardest hit. How do you run a network when half of the network support guys are gone?

People will figure it out. Others from different groups will step up and fill in where they can. They'll spread out the workload, work longer hours, do some things poorly out of necessity, and then feel badly about it. We're down ~10% with the recent redeployments, we were down about 10% with last year's redeployment, and we must have had at least 5% attrition between the two. There was a smaller layoff about 6 months before that. So I'm estimating that IT must be down about 30% over the last 18 months.

So almost 1/3 of the organization is gone, but what have we stopped supporting? How has the worked changed to plan for, or even react to, the smaller workforce? I haven't seen an outline for a 30% reduction in work from IT staff. I haven't seen any strategy for what we're going to stop doing. I haven't read one word about the work that's going to get cut, the programs we're going to stop supporting, the services that are being turned off, or how exactly people are supposed to manage the gaping holes in the organization.

For any IT staff members reading: Enough is enough. When are you guys going to pull your heads out and give us a strategy for dealing with these cuts? IT has done a good job of managing redeployment tactically; I've said before the actual cutting went about as well as it could have. But I optimistically expected to see something that would tell us how this was going to be handled. Right now it feels like a free-for-all in with people scrambling to figure out how to get things covered.

You are facing an inflection point with the IT workforce - people have just had it. They're angry, frustrated, buried in work, and looking for some leadership. And after worrying about keeping their jobs for three months they now have to figure out how to try and keep the infrastructure from falling apart. Let me be clear: You guys need to cut the work load. You simply can not continue to reduce resources without making the hard decisions on reducing services. Or don't do this and risk seeing attrition grow to unhealthy levels.

Here are a few suggestions: How many content management systems do we have? One of them is a custom built POS that was poorly conceived and badly implemented. Why is it still around? Why don't we pick one off the shelf tool and tell the content owners that's what Intel is using? If they don't use it, their content doesn't get to production. "But they need all these special features." Bullshit. We've already made the decision to use standard tools and technology where possible. It's time to start acting like it. That's got to be worth 1-2% in people and infrastructure savings.

We have too many people doing product and program management. Push that stuff back to the business side, or just get rid of it. "But we won't get good requirements from the business, have good specs, and our projects will suffer." Guess what? We have crappy requirements, bad specs, and projects don't run great now. If we're going to be lean and mean we need to focus on technical work and let the business figure out what they need. It doesn't really matter, because we want to use standard technology anyway. Let's walk the talk already. There's another ~1% cut.

We have more than a few application and data architects running around. They are some of the brightest people in IT. But guess what? There's not a lot of need for architecture when implementing standard tools. Either move them to jobs where they are doing hands-on work, or get rid of them. I guarantee that we could lose 70% of the architects tomorrow with virtually no impact to our big projects. There's another 0.5%.

These examples are small, but at least there are targeted, and can be tied to a bigger goal. This is what we're looking for. Great job firing 10% of us. Now tell us what you're going to do about it. Where is the path to lead us out of the darkness of perpetual resource gaps and shoring up coverage? We need a vision, a strategy, and plan that shows where we're going and how we're going to get there. Resource reductions are an action, not a vision. They're a consequence, not a plan. IT staff needs to step up here.

31 comments:

Anonymous said...

I sense you have gone past the point of patience in all this. Even the internal blogs are now pretty scathing of what's going on and the role of our executives.

It doesn't get much worse than this. For those who say this is business, Intel is just another big company and it's just a job. For me, "just a job" refers to a 9-5 routine with no prospects, and a carefree attitude.

So we have the no prospects piece, but we are still expected to be mentally and physically invested in an aimless organization that is wandering into oblivion. Reduction is necessary, but the strategy here is verging on the insane.

Anonymous said...

Excellent post. I am an architect and fully agree with your assessment. We need to have people in roles that actually helps org. Just because you cost more, you don't need to have fancy job role that has questionable deliverables.

The Master Guns said...

I do not think this kind of post is constructive outside of Intel and know for a fact that complaints like these can and are raised to the highest levels within Intel without danger of retribution. I also find your use of the “f” word unacceptable. I stopped using the thing when I was promoted to Gunnery Sergeant in the early 70’s and found the effectiveness of my communications greatly improved.

Anonymous said...

"IT staff needs to step up here."

Excuse me......step up to what? Management skills? Sorry. Those have never been a prerequisite to being on IT staff. IT has usually been run by so-called "techies" who made their mark in the trenches but have little skill dealing with strategic management issues. And this shortcoming has frequently been compounded by senior corporate staff making asinine technical decisions over the heads of the IT "experts". Even so-called "standard" packages have been brought in then force-fit or altered extensively to pacify the biz units who usually continued to be displeased at the end result. Only in Manufacturing, it seems, is there a top-down strategic direction to use/develop IT products which fit the process as well as each other.

IT has suffered greatly from such grandiose ideas as the expansion of the site IT organizations then the subsequent rollback as it became evident distributed support was significantly more expensive than central. Each one of these direction changes causes great disruption of services, careers, skillsets and budgets. Business owners, even if they were willing to pay out-of-pocket, could not get the services they needed/wanted because "it wasn't in the strategic design".

It is long past time to hire a CIO who is skilled at creating an IT to adequately service whatever portion of the corporation is desired by senior staff and quit the neverending expansion/contraction and technical misdirection that has typified Intel IT for the past 30 years.

Anonymous said...

I think we're already starting to see a degradation in service due to cutting too deep. Think about what's happened during the last two webcasts, or how people would rather not deal with the TAC and end up dealing with support issues themselves or with the help of their coworkers.

The best part is that in a few months, we'll get another shiny IT annual status report, going on and on about all the good things IT did this year. I wouldn't want to be the writer for that one.

Chris @ 2:44:
At rest, Sarge. Nothing confidential's being discussed here. It doesn't matter, anyway. The same issues are discussed in a lot more detail on the internal blogs, but IT staff doesn't seem to pay notice.

The troops are fed up and are being very clear about that, and I wouldn't be surprised if somehow the blogs end up being shut down, instead of treating that candid, detailed feedback from employees like the gold it is.

Anonymous said...

Oh, and another thing. Think about all the recent harebrained schemes:

Leap Ahead, the $2B rebranding, the $70B company, Viiv... that sort of stupidity is what got us here today, and not the hard work of the individual contributors.

Intel IT Guy said...

GySgt, I will respectfully disagree with you about being able to safely blog about some of these topics internally. I used the f-word intentionally and for effect. On re-reading, it didn't seem necessary and has been removed.

Anonymous said...

Did anybody else have a great belly laugh when JJ announced that IC's no longer had to do Monthly Status reports? I feel so less overworked now.

I'm stuck in a difficult position. After being in a support role for the last 3 years, I've gotten an opportunity to do more interesting work. Unfortunately, it is at the expense of others who were redeployed. Now I'm scrambling to do some transition work before these folks leave, and I know things are going to get missed and there will be things breaking. There are two people leaving that need to transition work, but I'm pretty much forced to completely ignore one of them to focus on another. Like you said, I'll feel slightly bad when that bites us, but you can only do what you can do right?

I kinda feel jealous of the people that are leaving now. So far I've been impressed with their professionalism, because I don't think I could be as helpful if the tables were turned. They have no pressure now, but we have a lot, and are forced to fill in all the gaps created by their departures.

Oh, and once again, we don't get answers to a question that was asked. Why do grades 10 and above get a special redeployment package not afforded to the rank and file? JJ danced all around that question today, but never really answered it.

Anonymous said...

If you accept the definition of efficiency as "the ratio of the output to the input of any system", then personnel cuts in IT with no program cuts makes sense. So, you IT guys who are pissed-off should just get over it or quit. I understand how you may wish to stay because you believe in Intel, feel that you can make Intel great the way it used to be, etc., whatever. There comes a point when you just need to cut your losses and get out if you feel as negatively as you do. It's difficult for people to sympathize with you as much as people would sympathize with a woman who chooses to stay with the man who continues to abuse her.

Intel Solutions Guy said...

Although the official announcement is due in mid-November, my manager already gave me a heads up that we'll probably be put for redeployment (where "we" means both me and my manager). Our group is going to get axed, except for a couple of people who will now focus on least tangible goals (influencing the market).

As we all now, redeployment is Intel-speak for lay-offs. I wish at least Intel would admit it. Anyway, my time at Intel has come... it was a good run, but the past few years have sucked. GPTW is certainly not regarded as a real part of the values anymore.

The funniest thing I heard was the VP of our group saying yesterday that anyone discussing redeployments, even their own, is up for immediate termination. In other words: don't talk about. Suck it up.

Good luck and thanks for all the fish.

Anonymous said...

"The funniest thing I heard was the VP of our group saying yesterday that anyone discussing redeployments, even their own, is up for immediate termination. In other words: don't talk about. Suck it up."

There will be no more movies until morale improves.

Anonymous said...

not to make you all feel better, but from someone who doesn't work in IT, Intel has sucked for much of the last few years. I am in a BUM as I write, and they just went over Division Organizational Health Survey. Items noted were:
1) Morale was low
2) people felt career growth opps were limited
3) many felt they were doing meaningless tasks with no-value added.
4) Poor leadership from upper management
5) too long to make decisions

So its not just IT that is suffering ... though the redeployments/layoffs are focused on you. Personally speaking, I'm strongly considering moving on after the 1st of the year. Many may be thinking the same thing.

The word from the ORG health survey was stated that current managment surveys are being done and action will be taken against low performers ... and that the concerns above will be addressed. I think many feel it will never really be addressed but is just a "feel good" talking point.

Anonymous said...

IT Guy, You absolutely should not have removed the "F" word from your post. I've been reading your blog for sometime and realized that you hadn't used the word lightly. In fact, to my knowledge it's the first time you ever have in this blog. If anyone out there was shocked, well I think that at least illicits some emotion, maybe the correct emotion. Starting to censor your messages on request is the beginning of the end. Maybe you wrote the post in the heat of the moment. But those were (are) your feelings. So take heed. I think most of us are big boys and girls (not all obviously).

Sarge, you didn't hear the "F" word in the forces, maybe it was the earplugs sir.

Anonymous said...

"It appears I'm no longer being accused, at least publicly, of taking bribes and kickbacks, so I appreciate that bit of good news. It's pretty sad to me to read some of the comments about an uncaring, deceptive, and/or untrustworthy IT staff. I sat in many meetings where we discussed in detail what options we felt were best to minimize impact to Intel, to the IT organization, and to our IT employees. Obviously there are people who disagree with the decisions; however I know every IT Staff person cares about this team and its health."

Wow! The job of an IT Staff member is sooo hard, I really feel bad for them. All of the tough meetings they had to sit through - meanwhile none of them get redeployed. In fact the couple of high up managers who are Virtual Office status got promoted with new projects. I guess I should take my redeployment news better knowing they suffered when they pulled my name out of a hat.

Former Intel IT Guy said...

Having worked for Intel for 6 1/2 years until I recently left around March of this year, I can absolutely sympahtize and understand the frustration you've expressed. Unfortunately, the problems are absolutely not confined to just IT. The problems with lack of leadership, management incompetence, and a whole host of other issues have been steadily growing over the past few years.

I worked in IT in Folsom before transferring to MFG and the F23 plant in Colorado Springs for the ramp to 1266. Less than a year after Intel relocated me to Colorado Springs, a decision was made to close the F23 plant since there was too much 1266 capacity in the MFG network. Within a month of the announcement regarding F23's closure, a separate announcement was made about expanding the FAB in NM to accomodate increased 1266 capacity.

Go figure...

Bottom line: Intel has grown far too bureaucratic. I left IT @ Intel because of the constant cuts. I saw it with the Aladdin project (PeopleSoft Upgrade) where a decision was made to offer VSP to the entire development team and then millions were wasted on bringing in outside consultants from India who had no idea how to implement PeopleSoft on the scale Intel uses the software. And you wonder why no one likes the My PayStub or Jobs Online tools anymore.

Bah...I'm glad to be gone. It would have been nice to hit my sabattical, but I enjoy my current job a lot more. And hey, I get to live in Colorado...can't beat that. :)

Anonymous said...

A former long time intel IT manager here, although I managed to bail out some years ago.

Things dont seem to have changed much. Intel as a company has been enormously successful and profitable but not always as a function of its management and direction.

I used to say that most of the folks outside of manufacturing and engineering could have stopped coming to work in the mid 90's and there wouldnt have been a whole lot of effect on the company earnings or products.

I just looked at the list of vice presidents and see a handful of names of people I knew well, many of which I wouldnt pee on if they happened to catch fire.

Yet you have some folks whose business units did well, often despite their efforts, who continue to be promoted. There is such isolation between the bottom and the top, I think thats the cause. When I first started in IT as a FLM my boss reported to the VP and I talked to the VP on a regular basis. They were plugged in. The IT engineering folks owned everything and got the job done. Next thing I know I'm writing 250 powerpoint slides a week, answering 150 emails a day and spending 90% of my time in meetings where we argue over program names and who 'owns' what. Bunch of BS. Gimme a hunk of turf, a bunch of hard working people, clear objectives and lets thump some ground. Thats the sort of leadership thats lacking. The guy who thought stuff like 'two in a box' was a good idea should have been shot in the face and quick. Yeah, I know who it was...

Problem is, Intel is a process/manufacturing company. It adores replicable procedures and things happening on a predictable basis. And it honors lots of layers of people to assure that predictability. IT stuff does enjoy a certain improvement with a little more process and a little less town sheriff action, but that extra stuff has a cost that has to be accounted for. When you value the process more than the work done, you get what you have now. Which aint sounding great.

All that aside, even in the hard times it was still one of the best companies I ever worked for. Yet the potential to be so much better just pissed me off because towards the end there were just too many layers and too much process.

As far as your comment from last year about 'average cost'...IT at intel shouldnt be an average unit. It should be a competitive advantage where we eat a whole bunch of our own dog food, pay for that hand over fist, and show people what we're doing and how we're doing it. It wont sell everyone topcpu but it'll get them to move a little. Lots of great technology and using it as leverage to make people and the company more effective. Be very frickin un-average is what IT needs to be. You cant expect to nickel and dime your way through information technology, do a half ass job and then ask your customers to do any better than you're doing.

Look at me still saying "we" even though I've been gone for 6 years. Is there a 12 step program or something for this addiction? :)

Anonymous said...

I am a long term ex Intel employee and spent most of my career there in IT in various orgs. I picked up this blog from the news article on "Intel's data center consolidation plan".
There isn't a lot of new complaints or observations here when compared to the past 10+ years but many are still as valid today as in the past. I feel today just as I did when I worked there that IT at Intel is not a competitive advantage or even a strategic strength for the corporation. I think that lack of leadership, strategic vision, planning, etc. are all symptoms of lack of expertise in the field. Why not outsource the "necessary" functions and make the CIO spot the lead in defining the deliverables? Is there someone or some org that could do that effectively today?

Anonymous said...

I worked as a process engineer for 11+ years and left last year. I worked in NM, CA, and OR.

The comments here in regards to IT generally are applicable to the fab world...poor management is everywhere at Intel and there are too many layers in the organization (both up and down and across) for the good managers to be able to fix the problems affecting the employees.

In general, the approach that became the standard operational procedure appears to be one where when a problem occurs, an interim solution is developed and then the template of this "solution" gets applied to multiple areas in the factory to prevent the problem from affecting the other areas. I can't recall the last time where a true root cause analysis was performed and the fix to the root cause was implemented. The beaurocratic loopholes to implement these changes became insurmountable.

Now Intel is a company where very few of its process engineers know how to solve problems.

Anonymous said...

Regarding your comments about getting rid of the architects because there is no need for them if you are using out of the box solutions. Intel IT guy, I really thought you were more intelligent that this. One of Intel IT's biggest problems is that everything happens in silos, and implementing standards across the silos is nearly impossible, both politically and technologically. Enterprise architecture is how you get the consistency and the cost savings PSO is looking for. OOB solutions doesn't change the need for this. Trust me, if getting rid of all the architects would be as impact free as you suggest they would all be gone. They have taken more than their fair share of the hit, so don't blame them.

Bill A said...

Great post again.

In my last month at Intel I was talking with the guy who had to assess and cut me [not my boss, since they had cut him before I was assessed].

He said he was sorry about everything and wished me the best. I told him not to worry, because I was the lucky one who did not have to pick up the pieces after the cuts.

I remember hearing JJ say that cuts would be made, but work would be cut too. I laughed because I knew that would be a blatant mis-truth. I don't call it a lie, since I don't think he intentionally was trying to deceive. However, after nearly 10 years at Intel, I knew that's what would happen. People would leave, but the work would remain.

October 26th, 2006 was my last day at Intel. I have not missed it one day since.

I do miss many of the wonderful, smart, and funny people...but never would I return. I don't need that level of stress for that low of pay.

Anonymous said...

Too bad AMD is in red and doing badly.
I think it would be a great opportunity to hire some of the Intel staff.

I only see this industry starting to stay stagnant.

Anonymous said...

The exec heads are firmly buried in the sand. Less than half the IT workforce would stay at Intel if offered a similar deal at another company. Less than half the IT workforce would recommend Intel to potential employees. That's 2500-3000 employees unhappy and probably bad mouthing Intel to people they know. Hopefully Intel won't need to do much external hiring in the near future. Yet the top guys are pointing to management surveys as the driver to improve leadership issues in the management chain. The data clearly shows that the issue is not with the management chain. 80%+ were happy with their direct manager. YOU ARE THE ISSUE! This is a bit like beating an addiction. Until you accept YOU have a problem it is impossible to fix it.

Anonymous said...

The comments posted by Intel IT Guy proves that we're driving our IT staffs into a state of insanity. IT environments are getting more and more complex through the adoption of new technologies such as virtualization. What’s worse is that many companies like Intel have plans to reduce IT staff which will only further burden the remaining folks. These two factors are combining to make the job of managing IT services and applications nearly impossible, as potential system problems and outages are much harder to find and resolve.



Although complexity in IT is a challenge, it’s certainly not a bad thing. Instead what’s needed is a fundamentally new approach to management, shifting from the old deterministic and reactive mode to a more proactive, probabilistic approach. Companies don’t need to monitor every single metric from every single system. Rather, a probabilistic approach narrows the universe of information to only the metrics that really matter in maintaining system availability. This automated approach, like that of my company Integrien, eliminates the manual processes in place today for problem identification and resolution and allows IT to get ahead of complexity issues by learning normal behavior of critical IT systems. As a result, potential problems are flagged and resolved before users are affected, allowing IT to operate proactively instead of insanely.

Anonymous said...

The post from the employee of Integrien is hopelessly off-track but kudo's are in order for the attempt to sell Intel IT on yet another 'silver bullet' solution.

The problem with Intel IT is not with its systems, although they are unnecessarily segmented and complex, but rather with the strategic and tactical direction by both senior staff as well as what passed for IT management.

I'm really tired of posting the specifics so I suggest you just read through all the comments on this blog and take lots of notes. Most of us who have served any significant time in IT have pretty much the same observations as to the problems in this organization. Most have been in place long enough to constitute a culture.

Anonymous said...

The net financial results were posted as a result of SET on the internal Intel Circuit page this week - all positives. So, maybe even more cuts are needed to get the stock price up to where we want them to be.

Anonymous said...

Seems like things have gone strangely quiet on the blog. Think maybe things have gotten back to "normal"?

Think again. Like the X-Files or Twilight Zone of IT organizations, people disappear, organizations with invisible managers appear from nowhere, and products are withdrawn without explanation. Authorities seem unaware of anything strange.

Anonymous said...

Intel's Circuit webpage SET numbers show the IT downsizing is helping. Look for more help (redeployments) in 2009, and in 2010, unless revenuse for company ramps aggressively. Other successful fortune 500 companies run quite successfully with IT benchmarked at 2% of revenue.

Anonymous said...

It would be very interesting to see what happens to the remaining Intel IT folks who end up with BE/IR ratings after the next Focals review.

Anonymous said...

This week, I said Goodbye to couple of friends. It was a sad moment when I realised that some of these people, with whom I spent so much time in last 7 years, would be gone.
Not that I always enjoyed working with them, seeing them go was really very sad.
Some of them did not have skills needed by Intel. However, I did not see Intel having a good plan to skill them and with globalization and other personal factors( needs of family, split family, choices etc), they just could not keep up with the herculian demands of work place.
Many of them had seen no other employer but Intel and that's really tragic.

Anonymous said...

"Many of them had seen no other employer but Intel and that's really tragic."

I have worked for a few high-tech companies, large and small, before joining Intel, and I totally agree with the above statement. There has been recent studies which suggests that long-term experience with just one company is now considered a negative on a person's resume. So, the rest of you long-time Intel folks should take note to avoid putting yourself in a box career-wise.

Anonymous said...

As a measure of IT effectiveness percentage of revenue is inherently a bad indicator. The revenue has nothing to do with the IT services that are needed to run a company. The revenue can experience massive swings changing the indicator with no action from either IT or any other support org. However Intel IT remains above other indicators like IT to employee ratio. That said the IT complexity in a semiconductor business is far greater than other types of business so it's tough to compare. IT cost and headcount should be relative to the services demanded by the business and we should expect to see services withdrawn or simplified as headcount declines. Unfortunately this piece of the puzzle has yet to be defined in our case, at least not explicitly.