Sue Johnston

Sue Johnston

Sue Johnston is an IBRS advisor who focuses on strategy and governance of private and public enterprise ICT. She is an accomplished and innovative strategist with more than 25 years’ IT and business experience across the public and private sectors. Sue has held a number of senior executive positions with IT vendors and major management consulting companies and provides coaching to IT teams looking to change the conversation with their customers, their executive and each other. As a CIO, she has led the ICT function through significant transformation for organisations such as Department of the Premier and Cabinet, Auscript Australasia and TriCare Limited. Sue has also run a successful software development company and transitioned the company through an acquisition process. Sue chaired Innovation Committee in State Government which was responsible for generating, developing and funding innovative ideas and improving the skills and capabilities of public sector staff in pitching ideas and successfully executing innovation projects.

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Conclusion: Organisations understand that implementing projects is part of the natural workflow. Delivering projects that meet organisational expectations is expected and demanded. Project management offices (PMOs) have been established to support project management activities and provide some key elements such as project management methodologies, documentation, project manager recruitment and organisational reporting.

While many organisations have implemented a PMO, there are nearly as many organisations that continue to struggle with some key elements such as resourcing, benefits and prioritisation, and the PMO has an opportunity to provide real value to the organisation in addressing these areas.


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Conclusion: Many strategic planning activities that are meant to set the future direction for the organisation fail to meet that objective. Current success, a high level of incumbent expertise or even passion can prevent an organisation from considering red flags or other indicators that will impact on future success. At worst, it can result in significant failure; at best, it limits the activities of the organisation to do more of the same with a tactical work plan. Overcoming this myopia is critical to ensuring that strategic planning i.e.fective and provides a useful compass for the organisation.


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Conclusion: Organisations are structured into business units or divisions to undertake day-to-day business activities. Technology projects are often initiated and executed with a combination of specialist technology partners, contracted specialist staff to augment staff levels and contributions from permanent staff in either a full-time or-part time capacity. Project planning and delivery approaches may take a traditional waterfall or a modern agile method. However, resource management and the effective utilisation of resources continues to be a significant problem for many organisations with critical capacity management approaches severely lacking. The implications are poor performance in terms of meeting project timeframes, significant de-scoping of project, or sprint deliverables or constant friction with business units to access resources to complete project activities. Effective resource capacity management provides an opportunity to understand the true available capacity, how to calculate the utilisation and how to plan and accommodate changes to the capacity requirements.


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Conclusion: Innovation is a growing key competency for organisations in the public sector and seemingly an imperative for the commercial and not-for-profit sectors to grow or maintain market share and relevance in a continuously dynamic marketplace. Although innovation is included in nearly all current strategic plans, both business and technology, organisations still struggle to actually adopt innovation in practice. Only by recognising how not to innovate can organisations ensure that change to their actions and behaviours supports innovation and does not kill it.


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Conclusion: Agility has been introduced into organisations as part of their approach to increase the cadence, or velocity, of design, development and implementation cycles for project delivery. Increased levels of activity and visibility are also integral to many social media solutions and their approach to online presence. However, strategic planning processes evolve slowly and for many organisations this critical business and technology planning activity is lagging behind and no longer supports the business objectives in the digital era. 


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Conclusion: Developing a digital strategy or embarking on a digital transformation program is now a common business narrative. For some organisations it is a process of recasting existing IT strategy and continuing in more or less the same manner. For others it involves initiating a technology project as a way to learn new processes and update platforms and skills. Understanding the business readiness of the organisation is a critical element for any change but is key to digital transformation.


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Related Articles:

"Digital transformation – get strategy and people right first" IBRS, 2016-08-03 08:01:16

"Digital transformation: More than a technology project" IBRS, 2018-06-01 04:04:24

"Digital transformation: Top 4 lessons" IBRS, 2018-10-04 13:03:00

Conclusion: Digital transformation is happening everywhere. It is being included in organisational strategic plans for government service improvements and in commercial organisations to address market challenges and industry disruptors. Digital transformation efforts include a core group of domains including strategy, innovation, experience, automation and trust and these must be addressed in any digital transformation approach. However, a core element of digital transformation is people and the hardest part of digital transformation is the cultural piece.1 Understanding the people elements of digital transformation and appropriately addressing them can mean the difference between success and failure for organisations.


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Related Articles:

"Digital transformation: Top 4 lessons" IBRS, 2018-10-04 13:03:00

"Digital: Use it to garner support for your next initiative, but avoid the risks!" IBRS, 2016-08-03 08:01:14

"Know how to sell ideas and support the digital strategy" IBRS, 2018-08-01 09:46:03

"Who should lead digital transformation?" IBRS, 2018-11-02 11:39:29

Conclusion: Project management principles and frameworks are now implemented in the majority of organisations, including public, commercial and the not-for-profit sectors across Australia. While project delivery metrics indicate an improvement in successful project execution there is still a concerning level of project failure (approximately 35 %). Project failure is extremely costly and while focus is on the project execution elements, many failures can be traced back to poor governance and decision making. Project boards set the tone and show the way forward for projects by helping to resolve challenges or to provide alternative actions. Their behaviour will be reflected whether the tone is positive or negative and has enormous impact.


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Related Articles:

"Bite the bullet – stop failing projects sooner not later" IBRS, 2016-09-02 05:06:18

"PMO – Models and structures" IBRS, 2018-05-04 18:33:08

"Tips for improving and monitoring ICT project governance" IBRS, 2018-07-05 03:12:50

Conclusion: Organisations either recognised early that digital transformation was essential to meet the competitive demands of their respective markets or accepted that general community expectations had increased where digital transformation of traditional business operations, processes and services was no longer expected and demanded. Digital transformation became the next big thing in organisations and initiatives were launched in earnest everywhere. While there are always success stories, many more have been less than successful and their stories have some very common themes. To make digital transformation work for the long term it is critical to avoid these mistakes.


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Related Articles:

"Agile: The other considerations" IBRS, 2018-03-31 06:46:04

"Digital transformation will fail without capable leaders" IBRS, 2018-09-04 13:40:06

"Digital transformation: More than a technology project" IBRS, 2018-06-01 04:04:24

Conclusion: Organisations undertake strategic planning activities on a regular basis, whether it be every three years or a rolling review every 12 months, to establish goals for the following three years. However, a review of many strategic plans and more specifically the resulting programs of work are often developed from the perspective of the project rather than the business benefits being sought. Understanding each investment and plotting that investment within an investment matrix will provide executives with a perspective about the balance of their ICT investment portfolio. Strategic investment goals such as planning an allocation for innovation will support execution of plans and achieving strategic goals.


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Related Articles:

"Benefits management: Keeping it real" IBRS, 2018-07-05 03:02:17

"Is your organisation addressing the three dimensions of IT planning?" IBRS, 2017-11-02 04:14:17

"Project review: Active assurance" IBRS, 2018-03-06 07:02:37

"Tips for improving and monitoring ICT project governance" IBRS, 2018-07-05 03:12:50

Conclusion: Innovation is top of mind for many CEOs across Australia. In fact, more than 86% recognise that they need to invest more in R&D and innovation as part of the company strategy. However, there is a significant gap between the aspirations of organisations and the reality of innovation within these companies and entities. Knowing what behaviours should be demonstrating and having a plan will improve the alignment betwee.g.als and achievements. Most CIOs are being asked to drive innovation for the business, yet innovation is still more rhetoric than substance.


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Conclusion: Benefits management relating to technology investments is widely recognised in importance and is quantified and articulated in business cases but not managed. However, often these benefits are stated as expected by governance groups to gain investment, knowing that they are either aspirational or it is collectively accepted that they will be difficult to harvest and are therefore not pursued. Implementing a more pragmatic approach by project teams up to governance groups will provide an opportunity to improve this key area of IT investment governance.


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Related Articles:

"Achieving Benefits Management – It’s in the Tail" IBRS, 2015-06-30 22:59:05

"Benefits Management is Not IT's Job" IBRS, 2005-03-28 00:00:00

"Why it is important to actively harvest the benefits" IBRS, 2015-10-03 00:09:45

Conclusion: Organisations everywhere are thinking about, planning or undertaking digital transformation activities. While good progress is being made, there is still a tendency to view digital transformation as a technology project or series of technology projects which will provide some value but will not result in an organisation being digital.


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Conclusion: Project management in organisations is commonplace. Organisations then seek to establish a Project Management Office (PMO) as a more permanent centre for project coordination. PMOs may start in the technology division and expand or may be established outside the ICT area. Knowing what the various models and structures are is important. Knowing how to assess the maturity and environment within the organisation and selecting the appropriate approach with empathy and common sense is critical to success.


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