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:The participation rate of IT and Business Professionals in teleworking is growing and has the potential to reduce occupancy costs while increasing productivity. That is, using ICT (Information and Communication Technologies) to support work activities away from the employer's office. Growth in recent years has been triggered by the availability of robust IT infrastructure and an increasingly IT literate workforce.

Despite its upside, surveys1have shown that teleworking, if not effectively managed with boundaries put around its participation, may negatively impact business relationships and lead to work-private life conflicts.


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Conclusion: The role of the traditional service desk has been to act as the single point of contact for clients for operational incidents and to track their resolution. With ITIL v3‘s (IT Infrastructure Library – version 3) having as one of its objectives the improvement in IT Infrastructure service delivery, one way to do it is to expand the role of the service desk. In its expanded role, the service desk takes on activist responsibility for delivery life cycle functions, including implementing continuous service improvements.


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Conclusion:Departmental computing in most organisations today is pervasive, commonplace and almost impossible to control. Because it is used widely and for multiple purposes line managers, who fail to supervise its use, are allowing an unsustainable situation to continue.

Attempts to bring departmental computing under control and minimise the risks, while a worthy objective, will fail unless senior management is committed to fixing the problem and forcing line to act. Failure will not only compound the risks, it will increase the hidden (or below the surface) costs of departmental computing.


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ConclusionTurning expected outcomes identified in the business strategy into reality, is high on the agenda of most senior managers. What is not well understood though is the role sound planning has to play in ensuring the outcomes are realised while meeting the typical project performance criteria such as delivery on time, costs kept within budget and ability to meet agreed service levels.

Project planning skills are not acquired overnight. They are based on a sound understanding of the project life cycle, as depicted in the diagram below, the ability to unravel the business strategy and plan the IT-related activities (tasks) needed to facilitate workplace change.


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Conclusion: As the number of specialist IT services providers (software, operations and applications) increase each year and organisations choose to engage multiple (technology platform) service providers, organisations must implement tighter systems integration processes. If processes remain unchanged organisations the number of operational problems will increase and unless staff skills are updated it will take longer to resolve these problems.


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Conclusion: Management generally has a tendency to engage IT management consultants when an ill-defined problem exists and a solution seems intractable. Ideally consultants are expected to act as fog busters, demystifying the situation and proposing innovative solutions that ‘blow the client away’.

In reality consultants can only meet the client’s expectations if ‘all the cards’ are laid on the table and they participate in the demystifying activity. In contrast, little participation yields little reward for the client.


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Conclusion: Faced with a direction to identify and report on areas where IT costs can be reduced or contained, CIOs must respond by developing a comprehensive cost management program that considers all service delivery options and regards no area as sacred. To maintain credibility with stakeholders and get their buy-in the CIO must convince them every expense line will be investigated and ways to reduce it examined, without compromising essential services.


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There are many theories being thrown around at present on the reasons for the global financial crisis. One that is getting traction is that there is a significant relationship between high levels of testosterone and preparedness by male traders to take extra risks to get a greater return.


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Conclusion: The successful IT (line) manager and CIO is one who can comfortably operate in the technical arena and political (organisational) domain at the same time. Whilst the skills to operate in the technical domain can be acquired, those needed for the political domain are more elusive.

In the article entitled, ‘Making the Transition from IT professional to Line Manager’,1 I focused on what IT professionals moving to a line management role needed to do initially to build a foundation for success. In summary the new manager needs to understand the technical requirements of the role and its political dimension and establish effective relationships with major stakeholders.


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Conclusion: The differences in roles and responsibilities between an IT professional and line manager are many and need to be understood by new managers and the manager’s manager. Not only will the understanding help both managers make the appointment work, it will also help the selection panel choose the right person.

A line new manager needs to be aware that the behaviour and strategies adopted in the IT professional role are unlikely to guarantee success in the new role. This is because the new role is typically a multi-dimensional one in which there are more stakeholders, outcomes are elusive and feedback is minimal.


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Conclusion: Interacting continuously with difficult people (also known as ‘jerks’) has the potential to make the workplace an unpleasant environment and sap the energy of those around them. Astute IT managers and professionals must understand the reasons difficult people behave in the way they do before they can develop coping strategies.

If UK and US based research quoted by Robert Sutton1 is a guide, difficult people also represent a hidden cost to the organisation through higher staff attrition, lost productivity and lower job satisfaction.


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Conclusion: Whilst management might devise complex rating and weighting systems to rank proposals from managed services providers proposals, what matters in the long run is determining who can ‘walk the talk’ and manage the IT infrastructure successfully. Making this determination is not easy.

To make the right decision evaluators have to focus initially on ‘what will be delivered’, followed by assessing ‘how it will be delivered and by whom’, and lastly at what cost.


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Conclusion: When IT related services are supplied by an external provider successful delivery hinges on the performance of the contract manager. Identifying the right person for the role of contract manager and helping the assigned manager acquire the skills needed is critical for delivery of quality services.


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Conclusion: Because cross-enterprise projects cross management responsibility boundaries and change the way people work, resistance is inevitable. To minimise resistance, start the project only when all plans have been agreed and skilled resources, including change managers, are available.

If the project is started before minimisation initiatives are implemented, counter implementers, who thrive when there is uncertainty, will create resistance and put success at risk.

Project managers and the governance group for cross enterprise projects must be aware of the risks of failure and not be daunted by them. Success comes to those who minimise the political (or people-related) risks. Appoint the right professionals to implement the project and break it up into ‘bite sized chunks’ in which usable results are possible.


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