Hot Projects

These IT leaders broke down communication and departmental barriers to get cutting-edge projects off the ground.

Our annual awards program honors men and women driving strategy and innovation in top-tier IT departments. Some of their stories are below. Don't miss the complete list of this year's winners.

How does an IT leader choose the most innovative IT project to take on these days? For some, the decision comes down to one thing: speed.

Premier 100 2007

Qualifying customers faster, getting proposals out more quickly, and making it fast and easy for the customer to do business with the organization are the keys to success in an environment where business interactions occur at an accelerating pace. Here's what you can learn from three Premier 100 honorees who led successful cutting-edge projects.

Guido F. Sacchi
CIO, senior vice president of corporate strategies, CompuCredit Corp., Atlanta

  • Project at a glance: The data supply-chain project integrated data from internal and external sources into a single database and moved query and reporting activity to a separate data warehouse appliance that supports faster, more accurate loan decisions for the financial services company's customers.

  • Signature leadership move: Kept his team members on task by keeping their schedules clear.

CompuCredit, which markets financial services to consumers with low credit scores, needed more timely access to information and better tools that its staff could use to make faster and more accurate lending decisions. The IT team met that need by consolidating credit card databases, streamlining and standardizing data ETL (extract, transform and load) processes, and moving query and reporting activity from the primary Oracle database to a Netezza Corp. data warehouse appliance that produces results an average of 150 times faster.

The project also met the CEO's mandate that IT drive down the unit cost per customer and leverage the business's economies of scale. "That was a direct alignment," says Sacchi, 43. He started the "nuts and bolts" supporting infrastructure upgrades over a two-year period that ended in 2006. After that, he says, "we did all of the BI layers that are visible to the user," completing them earlier this year.

Strategically, one of Sacchi's smartest moves was to separate the infrastructure-building phase in Year 1 from the business intelligence application phase in Year 2.

The infrastructure capital request went through corporate headquarters rather than individual business units. "I didn't have to cross-prioritize that against direct business initiatives," an approach that tends to starve infrastructure projects in favor of those with more immediate payback, Sacchi says. Once the foundation was laid, he budgeted with the business units to develop the BI applications, where direct benefits were evident.

To sell the job and keep interest high during the multiyear process, he demonstrated it to the president of CompuCredit's credit card business unit, Synovus Financial Corp. The president was so impressed that he immediately challenged his staff to begin using the tool.

Sacchi also brought on other potential users as part of the 30-member project team right from the start. "My best contribution was to pick the right team and empower them," he says.

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