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: When multiple application software vendors claim they have the solution to an organisation’s requirements, challenge them to prove it by demonstrating their product’s differentiators and ability to process use cases.

To make the right buying decision, clients must insist the demonstration stretch the software’s functionality and the vendor’s grasp of its nuances. If this is not done, the likelihood of a wrong buying decision looms.

Vendors that do not know their software’s capabilities intimately, or are ill prepared to demonstrate them, should be rated accordingly and, unless there are mitigating circumstances, omitted from the final round in the procurement process. Vendors that are comfortable in demonstrating the software’s functionality and its ability to meet an organisation’s requirements should be seriously considered for inclusion in the final round of the procurement exercise.


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Conclusion: Consolidating information systems after a MoG change or a company acquisition is not only risky but also likely to be expensive. The problem is compounded when the benefits expected from the merger are out of reach or, in the case of a company acquisition, the buyer has paid too much, and the stakeholders are demanding accountability.

To maximise the probability of a successful merger from a business systems perspective, do not take claims made of the ICT systems’ integrity at face value. Verify them and develop plans to integrate the systems where feasible, while minimising risks and retaining skilled IT and business professionals.


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Conclusion: One of the least understood contributors in implementing IT projects successfully is the leadership provided by competent TTLs (Technical Team Leads). Their ability to steer projects in the right direction, maximise the contribution of team members and cement the relationship with sponsors, is pivotal.

IT professionals, with potential to act as TTLs, must manage their careers by seizing leadership training and mentoring opportunities so they have a head-start when assigned to a TTL role.


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Conclusion: Business and IT professionals struggle with how to frame their message so it engages the reader and has immediate impact. To get the reader’s attention, it is important to pose a business problem, or an unacceptable situation that is pre-occupying the reader, and provide a solution on the same page.


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IBRS iQ 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: Most organisations do not know the extent of shadow or departmental IT. It is likely to range from using complex SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) solutions for core business systems to use of spreadsheets for simple applications, such as managing grants for local sporting organisations.

Unless there is a filter to assess requests for and identify non-compliant software, e. g. with inadequate security processes or using unapproved technical architecture, management conflicts are inevitable.


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Conclusion: One of the objectives of an IT workforce plan is to maximise the use of the skilled IT professionals and project managers and minimise their idle time. Managing the IT workforce plan is a complex task in most organisations as skill levels required may vary by project and by operational support roles.

To be successful, the manager of the plan must maintain a current and accurate skills inventory to assign the right IT professional(s) to the role. The manager also needs to ensure the role is correctly specified so an inexperienced IT professional is not assigned when an experienced one is needed.


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Conclusion: IT professionals who operate in a structured and predictable environment could find the role change to that of an IT manager more challenging than they had anticipated, as it typically requires a mind-set change from completing one or two tasks to managing people. To avoid disappointment, senior management must help new IT managers make the transition and cope with the nuances of the role.

To help them succeed, assign other IT managers, who have made the transition, to coach them. In this way they can learn how to act out the new role and come to grips with the politics of the organisation, or spheres of influence, and know how to interpret business priorities.


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Conclusion: Employ a bottom-up technology-based approach and a top-down business approach when developing the business and IT transformation program. Additionally, the program must take a pragmatic approach to reflect workplace changes that are feasible to meet the expectations of clients, staff, suppliers and the community.

Unless the program is continually revised to reflect the changing business and technology environment, it runs the risk of addressing yesterday’s problems. When benefits expected are not being realised, as indicated immediately below, it is important to implement turnaround strategies.


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Conclusion: Unless management develops work-place change management strategies and staff are trained to implement the transformation program, employees are likely to become disengaged and could fail to adapt to the changes envisaged. To minimise the risk of failure, the strategy to implement the program must be well planned and stakeholders consulted.


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Limited resources and a lack of skilled staff are holding back councils' IT plans. Australia's local councils are under increasing pressure to modernise their operations and improve on-line service delivery for residents, but many are starved of the funds and skills to achieve those goals. These are the key findings of a report from IBRS into local government IT management. The report - Winds of Change also Sweeping Local Government - found that local government IT leaders are grappling with demands to simultaneously improve online customer-centric service delivery while reducing operating expenses.

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As technology executives in councils drive to innovate services in their communities they face specific challenges. 

Over 2016-2017, IBRS surveyed CIOs in NSW, Queensland, South Australia and Victoria in order to understand how the winds of change are affecting local government’s frontline professionals.

The results are in this 22-page report, together with IBRS’s recommendations. Additionally, this report reveals the potential for ICT vendors in the local government sector.

This is a must read report for IT stakeholders involved in local government

 What you will discover in the report:

  • IT Management Priorities of other CIOs and skills needed to transform client services
  • Innovation and digital transformation initiatives being pursued by Councils
  • Why focusing on reducing IT costs is a low priority and potentially counter-productive
  • Why it is important to identify and grow the capabilities of business analysts and their line managers
  • And for vendors: how to establish mutually beneficial relationships with Councils


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Conclusion: Astute CIOs and business managers must consider not only which COTS (Commercial off the Shelf) vendor best meets their needs, but also how to best deploy the solution. This is because many vendors not only offer a mix of on-premises or private Cloud or SaaS (Software as a Service) solution but due to a limited local presence may lack the capability to implement it.

A further complication in the debate is that many COTS solutions are functionally mature which often means the selection decision hinges on their meeting qualitative and non-functional requirements.


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Conclusion: Organisations that by law must issue open tenders for systems solutions know they will be inundated with multiple responses and spend scarce work days assessing them. Staff involved in the process also know that many solutions proposed are not practical and, even if they are, often doubt the vendor has the capacity and capability locally to implement them.

The alternative, if not required to issue an open tender, is to conduct a market scan and qualify vendors with a viable solution and the ability to implement it. Having qualified them, they can send them a tender knowing they can probably meet its requirements. If this approach is adopted, there is the risk a potential vendor might have been overlooked.


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