Flextronics: Keeping IT Running On ‘Just Enough’

In his role as SVP/CIO at Flextronics, David Smoley has had to work within the constraints of a business that is a leader in the application of Lean manufacturing techniques.  Rather than view that as a problem for IT, however, Smoley has embraced Lean practices in his own department.

Flextronics is a provider of vertically integrated advanced design and electronics manufacturing services (EMS) to original equipment manufacturers (OEMs). When Smoley took over his current post in 2006, the company, and the economy, were doing well. Rather than use this as justification to invest in a wide array of new technologies — as many IT executives do in good times — he instilled a disciplined team culture around the theme "just enough."

This mantra meant that IT would spare no expense and keep a keen eye on its contribution to the bottom line. Developing this Lean mentality of “just enough” has served Smoley especially well during the downturn. Those executives who invest willy-nilly during good times often are the same ones who are on the chopping block when costs need to be cut. By running such an efficient operation during the good economic times, Smoley’s team was one of the pillars the company could lean on during the trying times of this recession.

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