The IT Triumphs and Trip-Ups of 2005

By Elizabeth Bennett Print this article Print

2005 definitely goes down as an interesting year. But who were the heroes of the IT universe and who were the goats?

Good management is what separates winning projects from losing ones, and 2005 served up some telling examples.

Good management allowed Sunny Delight to wean itself from Procter & Gamble's technology infrastructure after the beverage company was spun off from the consumer products giant.

And management's ability to think on its feet enabled New Orleans-based vacuum cleaner manufacturer Oreck Corp. to recover quickly after Hurricane Katrina's big wallop.

In contrast, the Federal Emergency Management Agency's communications and logistics problems during and after the late August storm were blamed on FEMA's managers.

Department of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff hammered home the importance of management on Oct. 19 in remarks before a House committee on the Hurricane Katrina response.

"Any technological advancements we make would be meaningless if FEMA did not also have the necessary staff to manage these systems and operations," he said.

Here's a look, by the numbers, at some other 2005 information management successes and shortcomings.


50: Days it took Oreck Corp. to return to its headquarters in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina's landfall.

Most business continuity plans just didn't account for disaster on the scale of Hurricane Katrina, as Oreck found out.

The New Orleans manufacturer's business continuity plan was straightforward. If its New Orleans headquarters were hit by a hurricane, it would shift its management operations to its manufacturing facility in Long Beach, Miss., 76 miles away.

But Katrina's path of destruction blew through both of the company's sites. "I don't think any of us anticipated a single storm taking out both locations," said CEO Tom Oreck.

The Long Beach site was intact with minor damage, but lacked communications and electricity. Nevertheless, Oreck was determined to get the plant running again. Oreck and his management team worked around the clock to secure generators for the Long Beach facility, and they streamlined the business to focus on essentials such as supporting its retail stores. Some parts of the company's disaster plan held up.

Story Guide:

Winners and Losers: Good Management Makes the Difference

This article was originally published on 2005-12-05
Senior Writer
Elizabeth has been writing and reporting at Baselinesince its inaugural issue. Most recently, Liz helped Fortune 500 companies with their online strategies as a customer experience analyst at Creative Good. Prior to that, she worked in the organization practice at McKinsey & Co. She holds a B.A. from Vassar College.
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