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: 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 demonstrated and having a plan will improve the alignment between goals 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: Project Health Checks and Gateway Reviews are an excellent way of assessing the progress of a significant project, identifying issues and taking a corrective action approach that is in the best interests of the organisation. One of the obvious and highest risk periods for projects to go off the rails is the period between when a contract has been signed with a supplier and go-live day. Organisations can ensure that they have all the other elements for a successful project in place such as aligning with the strategic goals of the organisation, a rigorous options assessment resulting in a robust business case, a good governance framework and solid project team, and still have major challenges. There are some softer signs to watch, so that if is action is taken quickly, project failure can be averted.


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Conclusion: Organisations globally and across Australia increasingly understand the importance of providing products and services with a great user experience. Global companies and brands such as Google, the iPhone, the iPad, and the Kindle from Amazon have proven that user experience is an important differentiator even when something is not first to market. User experience (UX) is often confused with User Interface (UI) and organisations wanting to improve the customer experience of the products and services need to understand the difference. Organisations may increase their capabilities or engage an experienced partner to assist them to improve their user experience (UX) and it is important to understand the UX and UI roles and then apply them both in the appropriate manner so that they are not producing the wrong thing in a beautiful wrapper.


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Conclusion: Organisations across Australia are talking about innovation. Having a structured approach for idea management within organisations is critical as is receiving executive support and appropriate funding for new ideas. However, thinking differently about problems and opportunities will be a key competency in the drive for innovation. One approach such as design thinking is being utilised to great effect in other countries. There are some local occurrences but Australia is lagging and needs to take action to catch up.


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Conclusion: Virtual teams continue to be an accepted organisation mode as a means of grouping specialist and project resources together to achieve high quality outcomes. Recent research1 identifies that more than 40% or Fortune 500 companies currently utilise virtual teaming. Smaller organisations have found that technology tools provide the mechanisms to collaborative cost effectively. A key activity of virtual teams is collaborating on research, projects and reports. Understanding the purpose of the collaborative authoring activity, the personality preferences of the authors and the relationship of the authors can enable organisations to increase the quality of the output with less effort and in less elapsed time.


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Conclusion: Organisations are increasingly leveraging the services, skills and capabilities of third party organisations to deliver high quality IT services to their organisations. At the same time, there is industry recognition that contract management skills within organisations are often under par. Well managed relationships can result in significant returns for the organisation in terms of ROI and reduced management costs. Well planned arrangements with performance measurements represent sound management practices. Going beyond the basics to mature relationships and trust dividends is even better.


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Conclusion: Organisations have been slowly and organically embracing virtual team management models over the past few years and there is every indication that this is the model of the future. Managing virtual teams and developing highly functional communities have been largely hit and miss. There are still many instances of dysfunctional teams exacerbated by the tyranny of distance. Systemically assessing the virtual distance within an organisation can provide insights and assist executive managers to develop and implement initiatives to significantly increase the effectiveness of virtual teams.


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Conclusion: Governments across Australia have been engaged in shared services initiatives for almost a decade. Unfortunately, while the benefits are clear in theory, in practice all large scale shared services initiatives in the Australian public sector have been problematic. While a number of state shared service programs have been significantly scaled back or completely abandoned, the promise of shared services benefits remains to be realised. Recently, the Australian government has commenced progression towards shared services. Most of the shared services projects were implemented as a ‘spin off’ and failed, while a ‘start up’ strategy may overcome many of the challenges of the previous implementations.


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Conclusion: A majority of organisations around the world and across Australia are implementing or trialling some form of Cloud service whether it be IaaS, PaaS or SaaS. While Cloud services offer many potential benefits to organisations they can increase complexity in a number of areas of IT service management. Organisations may implement a hybrid Cloud model and deliver some services using public or private Cloud.

Business areas may subscribe to Cloud services for the provision of application services with or without the participation of IT. Identifying and managing the schedule of change with a wide variety of providers can be complex but will provide the CIO and the organisation with a clear view of who, what, when, and how changes will be made, the risks involved and the mitigation actions required.


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Conclusion: Moving services to the Cloud is a part of nearly all organisational strategic plans. Organisations today are either starting to trial services with one provider, moving from the trial phase to include additional services or heavily focussed on Cloud as part of their service delivery model.

Based on the learnings from organisations that are heavily focussed on the Cloud, CIOs will only be successful if they can successfully develop their maturity to be a competent customer of Cloud services. Developing an objective view of your organisation maturity level and actively seeking learnings from organisations that have already undertaken the journey will assist CIOs in developing an appropriate, actionable plan for their organisation.


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Conclusion: There are many benefits in off-the-shelf applications, whether they be onsite or SaaS,  available to organisations in terms of cost reductions, increased productivity, improving market share or customer satisfaction. For organisations that have traditionally followed a custom build approach, there are some key areas that need focus and executive management commitment to ensure the promised value is achieved.


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Conclusion: Project Management in organisations is commonplace. Reviews are essential, but often overlooked. Project reviews completed during the life of a project should include appropriate stakeholder groups and focus areas. Reviews that are inclusive of the groups not directly involved in the delivery of project activities and objectives can assist in identifying communication and brand perception issues. A clear and concise review program applied to projects can increase the likelihood of project success and improve the organisation’s brand image.


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Over the last 2 years, there has been an explosion of all things cloud. Infrastructure in the cloud, cloud services and of course cloud providers.

Many organisations are moving to the cloud, planning to move to the cloud or at least thinking about ways that they can leverage what the new wave of services can give them. Combine this with a very competitive commercial world where winning a portion of the available ICT spend is becoming harder and harder and you can see why no ICT company wants to be seen with yesterday’s present.


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Conclusion: Australian organisations in both public and private sectors enthusiastically identify and implement best practices from around the world. After considerable time and effort has been allocated to implementing these processes and tools the results are all too often less than satisfactory. There are many best practices, frameworks and tools to assist in the optimisation of IT but there are two key problem areas that if overcome, can make a significant difference in the benefits that organisations will derive from best practice implementation.


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