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: 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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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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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: The PMO role has many manifestations. It is also rarely static. When the organisation is in transformation mode the PMO must ensure project managers work as a team and deliver results. It is analogous to the role of an orchestra conductor who must get the musicians to rehearse so they know their roles and work together to make their opening concert a success.

Post transformation, one of the PMO’s roles is to get business operatives to assimilate the system’s functions so the benefits expected are realised. Similarly, the conductor’s role is to get the orchestra to perform so well there is a full house at every performance and the producer gets a satisfactory payback from the production.


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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: The enterprise architect (EA) role is one of the most intellectually challenging in an organisation. This is because it involves developing a systems roadmap to migrate from the current to a desired future state that is compatible with the business strategy.

Assign the wrong person to the EA role and the future systems will probably be unattainable and realising the business strategy problematic.


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