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: Astute managers know that once a project is completed, skilled staff will be reassigned and their recall of the lessons learned and what worked and what did not is quickly lost. This is because corporate memory dissipates the longer the recall is delayed.

Apart from determining whether the objectives of the project were or were not achieved, an open and frank conversation needs to occur regarding the project’s outcomes and stakeholders need to be:

  • Brave enough to admit failures and shortcomings
  • Modest when highlighting successes
  • Generous in giving credit to all who contributed to the project’s success
  • Prepared to adopt practices and approaches that worked well
  • Comfortable in disseminating the review’s findings to all who need to know.

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Conclusion: To facilitate business and IT transformation PMOs must be given a role that puts them at the forefront of advising management where best to invest scarce resources in business and IT-related projects whilst ensuring business systems are successfully implemented.

To be successful PMO staff need:

  • People management skills to help project managers reach their potential
  • Business acumen to assess competing claims for funds for business systems projects
  • To be able to shape management’s expectations of what IT can and cannot deliver.

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Conclusion: The high-risk and high-reward Agile approach for systems development enabled many organisations to respond quickly to changing management strategies and yielded significant productivity benefits, according to a 2015 survey1.

However the same survey found not everyone has been so successful, as lack of experience in using the Agile approach, and organisation resistance to change, have frustrated almost the same number of organisations.

Once IT and business management have decided that Agile is the right approach they must:

  • Champion and defend its use
  • Actively track progress and allocate extra resources to the project if justified
  • Provide a safe environment in which a retrospective review can be conducted
  • Widely disseminate the lessons learned from the review, including strategies that succeeded and failed, without attributing blame

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Conclusion: Organisations that fail to develop the skills of their BAs, or give them intellectually challenging roles, are in danger of losing them and their corporate memory. BAs used wisely are often the glue holding complex projects together.

Use them to elicit and simplify business requirements, develop compelling business cases and redesign business processes and the investment will reap dividends. Allocating them mundane tasks and failing to involve them in critical decision making meetings will demotivate them and give them a reason to move on.


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Conclusion: CIOs continually wrestle with how to replace or modify failing core systems and having to convince management to invest in modernising them. They also know that ignoring a bad situation will probably cost the organisation more to fix the longer they postpone the replacement decision.


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When the leadership of IT and business management work well as a team there are few limits to what they can achieve in delivering services to clients. However for the teamwork to become a reality line management and IT professionals must put aside special interests and focus on implementing initiatives that deliver outcomes that meet the objectives of the organisation.

Agility is achieved when the team is able to quickly identify the source of a problem or business opportunity, corral their resources and expertise and respond with alacrity.

One area where teams struggle is identifying and putting into practice the guiding principles under which they will pool their resources.

This MAP is designed to guide and stimulate discussion between business and technology groups, and point the way for more detailed activity. It also provides links to further reading to support these follow-up activities.


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Conclusion: While the need to design current and future state technology platforms has not diminished, the role of the solutions architect in designing tactical business systems and advising management which systems implementation approach to pursue is taking centre stage.


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Conclusion: To achieve workplace assimilation of new or replacement business systems, staff must be well trained and convinced it is in their best interests to become proficient operatives. For assimilation to become a reality a comprehensive workplace change management program, that includes a systems training strategy, must be developed.


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Conclusion: To grow their business and deliver sought after online services, organisations must provide error free systems supported by robust IT infrastructure. When unable to deliver one or both of these consumers will seek other suppliers that provide better online services.

To meet consumer expectations online systems must be comprehensively tested and error free before making them publicly available, and operated on IT infrastructure that can be ramped-up when needed to meet consumer demands. The inability to provide quality services when required could put the organisation’s reputation at risk.


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Conclusion: Unless the Executive holds business and IT management accountable for reporting if the benefits expected in the business case have been realised or not, they will never know whether they made the right decision to invest in the first place.

To estimate the gross benefits and costs, it is imperative the business case records not only the performance metrics when it was approved, but also those current when the business system(s), was implemented (when there is a time lag).


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Conclusion: Sustained investment in IT Infrastructure is critical for the delivery of services to clients and delivering business efficiencies. Without continued investment service quality will deteriorate, operational incidents occur more frequently and the organisation’s network put at risk from unwanted intrusions.


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Conclusion: Workplace change and IT transformation projects typically bring with them more political (organisational) than technical challenges. To win support for these projects concentrate on the people by listening to their concerns and developing strategies to alleviate them. Let the technical solution stand or fall on its own merits.


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Conclusion: In order to develop an IT transformation program it is important to understand today’s operational and workplace context and use the insights gained to shape the way change can be achieved with a minimum of risk.


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Conclusion: Poor planning is frequently cited in surveys as a major reason an ICT project has failed. A major element in the planning process is the preparation of the business case setting out why the project is needed and must be approved.

Management is remiss when it approves a poorly developed business case as it sends the wrong message to developers and sponsors – that if the project fails to deliver they are not to blame.


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