Alan Hansell

Alan Hansell

Alan Hansell is an IBRS advisor who focuses on IT and business management. Alan is able to critique and comment 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: In most organisations the Help Desk is the single point of contact for business and IT professionals regarding desktop support. When management skimps on the number of IT professional needed and their training, users typically wait too long to get through to the Help Desk or become frustrated and abandon the call, with adverse business consequences.

Conversely, when too many Help Desk staff are assigned, boredom quickly ensues. Ensuring the Help Desk has the right number of IT professionals with the right skills is a balancing act for management. Unless management has sound performance metrics to measure service effectiveness, achieving the balance is hard.


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Conclusion: IT Strategic Plans typically include a long term application pathway for offering enhanced services to clients, and better management information. In reality this is just the beginning of the journey from concept to benefits realisation. To succeed, project sponsors need to take the initiative and gather arguments that will ensure funds are allocated to their projects by the governance group as soon practicable.

To minimise management tension the governance group has to create a level playing field and equitably allocate resources to sponsors whose projects best contribute to meeting business objectives.


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Conclusion:When assessing potential service providers, rate highly those whose solution clearly meets requirements and who have capable IT professionals ready to implement it. To reflect the rating assign a higher evaluation weighting to providers meeting both tests and a lower weighting for attractive pricing, previous experience and availability of proprietary methodologies.


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Conclusion: CIOs who do not know the level of alignment of their IT strategy and performance with business objectives are potentially flying blind. They could, for instance be advising management to allocate scarce resources to the wrong problems or hiring the wrong people and not know it.

Because alignment is based on perception, CIOs may also be missing the signals from business managers that they are not doing well. Restoring alignment, based on measuring it and taking corrective action when out of alignment, must be a priority of today’s CIOs.


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Conclusion: Knowing what it costs to provide IT services is fundamental for sound IT governance and external comparison. Whilst it might be tempting to quote the IT expense budget as the basis for comparison, doing so is naïve. This is because each organisation differs in the way it collects and allocates IT expenses. Without normalising the costs, comparisons could be way off the mark.

Once IT costs have been normalised and adjusted, as described and depicted in the diagram below, comparison is defensible with a) comparable organisations, b) what an external services provider might charge for the same services and c) the average costs for the industry sector as set out in IT industry survey spending reports.


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Have you ever been at a conference where everyone in the room is a stranger and you just wanted to leave? Have you ever tried to conduct an interview with an applicant who gives only ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ responses to questions and clearly does not want you to enter their world?

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Conclusion: Organisations aiming to improve the effectiveness of their EGIT (Enterprise Governance of IT) initiatives must ensure they apply best practices in relationship management with all stakeholders. This is because effective governance is dependent not only on having the right framework in place, but also people skilled in stakeholder relationship management positions to implement them.


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Conclusion:The need for an overarching framework to drive business value from IT through value management processes, supported by mature delivery service processes has prompted the need for an enterprise-wide approach to IT governance1


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Conclusion: Enterprise governance of IT (EGIT), the objective of which is to drive business value from IT, is a new concept. It also goes beyond traditional IT governance, which focuses on effective delivery of services, by seeking to transform IT so it can meet the current and future demands of all clients.

CIOs who can drive the transformation of IT and help drive business value through their leadership role with the senior management team will always find their services in demand.1Conversely those who do not take up the dual challenges run the risk of being perceived as operational managers only, and potentially limit their career advancement options.


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Conclusion:Organisations that practice smart sourcing know what they can achieve with their resources and what must be sourced externally. They also know how to act on that knowledge to deliver timely and cost effective services to their clients.


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Conclusion: The rise in the Australian Dollar is encouraging many organisations to investigate using IT and business process service providers outside the country as a means of reducing their cost base. There is no doubt that ongoing savings are possible, but they will only be sustained if the risks are managed and IT professionals responsible for outcomes are diligent and track performance.


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Conclusion: The GFC (Global Financial Crisis) has forced most organisations to reduce their operating costs to stay viable, and have given the task of achieving it, by challenging spending proposals and trimming budgets, to the CFO.

To ensure the right areas of expenditure are targeted CIOs must work with the CFO to not only assess impact of reduced spending but also develop a fallback plan in case IT spending is cut. CIOs who adopt an adversarial approach or are slow to co-operate with the CFO are putting their careers at risk.


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Conclusion: CIOs must keep all levels of management aware of the impact of extending the organisation’s reach and range1 of services. Whilst there are obvious benefits from the extension, business managers must understand that it brings with it increased application and IT infrastructure complexity2 and extra support costs. It also makes the organisation’s network vulnerable to intrusion.

Astute CIOs know that having alerted management of the impact of extending reach and range, and to keep their job, they need to present their strategy for its support while minimising the risks. Without strategies, as set out below, they put their jobs at risk.


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Conclusion: In a continually evolving business world, organisations with immediate access to quality data can fast-track decision making and gain a competitive edge or be recognised as a leading agency. Critical in sustaining this edge will be the performance of the CIO (Chief Information Officer) in securing and supplying data on demand and ensuring its meaning is understood by business professionals and managers.


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