Alan Hansell

Alan Hansell

Alan Hansell is an emeritus IBRS advisor who focused on IT and business management. Alan specialised in critiquing and commenting on IT and business management trends, ways to justify and maximise the benefits from IT-related investment, IS management development and the role of the CIO. Alan has extensive experience in IT management, consulting and advising senior managers in matters related to IT investment. He was a Director in Gartner's Executive program and adviser to over 50 CIOs and business managers and before joining Gartner a consultant with DMR Group. He also worked as an IS professional, manager and industry consultant for IBM for nearly 30 years. Alan is a CPA and Associate of Governance Institute of Australia.

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Conclusion:

Due to the scarcity of skilled ICT professionals and managers, organisations will inevitably seek extra capacity from augmented services providers to address the shortfall. Staff conducting due diligence to find the best provider and qualify the providers must be unafraid to ask difficult questions, business savvy and, when dealing with providers, able to separate the wheat from the chaff. Identifying providers with the capacity and ability to deliver the desired outcomes and are a good fit is not an easy task.

If the staff find that no provider can deliver what is required, stakeholders must either:

  • Wait for internal staff to become available, or
  • Hire and train staff which can be an expensive, time-consuming exercise that may increase business risks.

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Conclusion

For organisations when there is stakeholder agreement the enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution has failed to meet business needs, act decisively to turn failure into success. Management must also be proactive, and act when the implementation cost has been fully amortised and deemed past its use-by date, or when vendors providing SaaS ERP solutions have not met their contractual and service delivery obligations. In all situations, it is important to be proactive and tell executive management what is being done about it.


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Conclusion

Major increases in demand for ICT and business professional employment in the year 2020 have been reported, despite the economic downturn. These increases are important to note as they signal a post-pandemic increase in ICT investment in the year 2021 and in future years to support enhanced business systems and demand (user) computing.

To complicate matters a survey of Australian CIOs indicated that it will be more challenging to find qualified technology employees in 2021 compared to pre-pandemic market conditions. Unless recruitment programs are well thought out, the inability to recruit the right people will stifle plans to take advantage of ICT growth opportunities in 2021.


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Conclusion:

Digital transformation initiatives will drive organisations to grow existing skills and develop new competencies. Unless this need to grow is recognised and plans developed to train geeks in advance, projects will falter and delays will frustrate stakeholders.

To avoid failure it is imperative that organisations develop workplace initiatives to close the (presumed) skills gap, and ensure the business case for the transformation includes funds to train the right people (geeks) and upskill them. Unless the initiatives are identified, and funds allocated, sponsors will need to continually ask for more resources – a career-limiting activity.


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Conclusion:

Minimising risks from systems specification errors and cyber risks from network intrusions when an enterprise-wide digital transformation is underway is a daunting task, as many stakeholders could be impacted. Depending on the severity of the error or network intrusion, an incident could damage a brand’s image and shareholder confidence in the board. In the public sector, a cyber incident could result in the leaking of citizens’ private data and put an unwelcome spotlight on ministers and bureaucrats.

While boards are ultimately responsible for monitoring and minimising risks, they must ensure management creates a risk abatement framework and strategy, and executes it. The problem is compounded when the organisation’s aim is to transform or reshape its business model and the changes proposed are resisted by staff concerned at possible job losses or fear of failure – risks which must be addressed in the strategy.


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Conclusion: Most organisations have vast pools of data (a. k.a. information assets) lying underutilised, as many IT and business professionals are unsure where it is stored and are unaware of its value. To turn the situation around organisations must strive for data mastery1, which is the ability to embed the data into products and services to increase efficiency, revenue growth and customer engagement.


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Conclusion: Organisations that laid off IT and business professionals during the pandemic due to cost pressures will find it challenging post-pandemic to reset IT services needed to meet client service requirements and those of much leaner organisations.

With many employees working remotely, organisations will need to enhance their cyber security skills while providing secure services in a price-sensitive and cost-constrained environment in which many clients will also be struggling financially.

Vendors will also find it difficult to grow a client’s technology base post-pandemic due to their clients being short of capital, which will frustrate both parties, and once the solution is justified fewer skilled staff (than pre-pandemic if lay-offs occurred) will be available to implement them.


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Conclusion: As organisations strive to enhance customer experience, complemented by marketing and sales activities, success will be contingent on IT and business professionals using data literacy skills and being able to implement systems that make it easy to do business with them and understand their buying patterns.

Unless IT and business professionals acquire the data literacy skills needed, and make the right data available, efforts to better engage with customers and prospects will fail to achieve expectations and opportunities will be wasted.


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Conclusion: Many organisations are engaged in implementing digital transformation programs to provide enhanced customer services, e. g. with new products or to reduce operating costs, or both. Unfortunately, many programs fail, sometimes repeatedly, until they achieve their set objectives. What is important though is when failure occurs, use the lessons learned to try again.

Delivering a transformed organisation is hard as it is inevitably accompanied by:

  • Redesigning business processes to meet today’s business imperatives
  • Implementing enhanced information systems
  • Encouraging employees to acquire new skills and be innovative
  • Actively minimising the business risks

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Conclusion: Estimating the workdays for an agile- or waterfall-based IT project is not a simple task. However, with effort and a disciplined people-focused approach, it can be turned from an art into, as close as possible, a science.

When the effort is made, management will become more comfortable with the resources needed to complete projects and avoid the unpleasant task of asking for more resources than expected due to flawed estimating.


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Conclusion: Due to the pandemic and economic decline, politically astute IT managers will need all their selling skills to get one-off IT infrastructure proposals approved. Not only is this due to a decline in earned revenue or grants, but also because procurement involves paying cash to vendors.

IT managers may need to ‘walk the talk’ to convince decision makers to support IT infrastructure investment proposals. In an environment where demand exceeds supply, and competition for scarce resources is high, the need to sell the proposal is probably an organisational political necessity.


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IBRSiQ is a database of Client inquiries and is designed to get you talking to our Advisors about these topics in the context of your organisation in order to provide tailored advice for your needs.


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Conclusion: To prepare for the inevitable questioning by senior management of whether an expense line item can be reduced, management must review its breakdown and be prepared to justify it to senior management when asked. Responses must highlight the business risks that will ensue should a selected expense line item in the ICT opex (operating) and capex (capital) expense budgets be reduced. Failing to frame the response in business (risks) terms could delay the review and reflect poorly on ICT management.


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Conclusion: For many years, shadow IT or business-managed computing has flown under management’s radar screen with mixed results. For some organisations it has been a panacea as it has helped them automate business processes quickly and gain valuable business insights from accessing complex data structures.

In some organisations, business managers resort to developing a shadow IT solution because skilled IT resources are not available due to budget constraints. When this occurs, business or engineering professionals (also known as digital natives) are then reassigned to provide a stop-gap solution, which is often uncontrolled. For these managers, shadow IT is an irritant as it diverts them and their direct reports from their everyday tasks.


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