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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There’s a long history of fad terms and acronyms in the information technology field – EDP, VM, CRM, EDI, iPad, iPod, tablet, BPO, ad infinitum, and of course the latest – Cloud.

The advent of all things Cloud introduced new terms such IaaS, PaaS, SaaS to classify layers of technology such as infrastructure, platforms and software that could take advantage of the Cloud – ‘Everything as a Service’.


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Conclusion: ICT Strategic Planning is undertaken by organisations in both the private and public sectors every year. Many organisations limit their strategies to high level objectives and do not take the next step to include metrics to measure the success of their strategies. For CIOs, this means putting a stake in the ground for which their performance and the performance of ICT will be measured. Not including metrics can result in strategic plans that are shelfware, not understood by the business and not providing the opportunity to demonstrate to the organisation how far they have travelled and the benefit that ICT can offer the organisation.


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Conclusion: The concept of innovation has been gaining wider acceptance in the past few years, particularly in line with the explosion of the Internet and social media. However, many organisations are still following the model that new ideas will be generated by the clever people within the organisation or will come from those external partners that are already known to the organisation. This outdated model does not provide the opportunity for organisations to identify great ideas that could provide significant benefit to their organisation. There is growing adoption of a broader based innovation method known as ‘Open Innovation’ that offers considerable benefit to organisations that embrace it.


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Conclusion: CIOs and technology leaders will often have relationships with many suppliers and vendors. This can be transactional in nature and limited to an exchange of goods or services for payment. A strategic partnership is a longer and deeper relationship and has many of the same characteristics of a good marriage and many benefits. However, organisations often focus on having a good process and underestimate the real imperative of good relationships which is harder to achieve but is the clear differentiation between a transactional relationship and a strategic partnership.


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Conclusion: Organisations, large and small, have invested time and money over the past 5-10 years in improving ICT project success. Skilled project managers, governance groups, increased executive awareness and improved processes have all combined to improve the probability of a successful project. However, recognising when to cut the losses of a failing project is still a problem for many organisations. Either they never terminate a failing project or they delay in making the decision to terminate it. Either way the consequences can be devastating.


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Conclusion: Significant changes in both business organisation and the ICT industry overall will occur as emerging technology trends such as cloud computing become more mainstream over the next two to three years. As part of ICT strategic planning activities, CIOs need to understand not only how they will respond to these changes but also how their traditional partners will respond in terms of products and services, business models and the acquisition, retention and development of appropriate skills to deliver to their customers.


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Conclusion: Software as a Service (SaaS) is gaining mainstream acceptance as a viable sourcing strategy for enterprise applications in both the public and private sector. IDC predicts that by 2015 24% of all new business software purchases will be of service-enabled software with SaaS delivery being 13.1% of worldwide software spending1. SaaS is being considered by many organisations as a means of achieving faster delivery times, cost reductions and access to innovative capability. In addition, organisations can exploit the SaaS model during the acquisition phase to reduce risk, improve business change management and test activities if they are prepared to move away from more traditional approaches and deal with organisation cultural issues. This paper focuses on the early stages of the acquisition process prior to contract finalisation.


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Conclusion: Many organisations have implemented frameworks and methodologies, increased internal project management and improved project governance in an effort to improve IT project success. The Standish Group reports project success has shown considerable improvement over the last 15 years. However, projects can still fail and organisations can improve their preparedness for projects and change programs by spending time undertaking a Business Readiness Assessment (BRA) before they begin any new change initiative.


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Conclusion: There is an increase in the number of women board directors following changes to diversity disclosure guidelines. However, the pipeline of senior executive women remains small and changes in the workforce are needed to improve this trend. Tight labour markets and an ageing workforce provide opportunities for organisations and industries to differentiate themselves and attract and retain women with future board membership potential. Recognition of planned career breaks for family and appropriate support on re-entry to the workforce can significantly increase senior management participation for women.


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Conclusion: Wartime is fast approaching. Some would argue it is already happening around us, and CIOs will be in the firing line. Radically different business models, historically poor relationships with business areas and the confluence of transformational technologies mean that many CIOs will not be able to just incrementally improve operations to stay relevant but lead significant change or face being a casualty of war.


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Conclusion: With the increasing focus on governance of ICT investments and successful project delivery there will be an ongoing demand for high quality Project Managers to deliver outcomes for organisations. According to an article in The Australian earlier this year the most in-demand ICT roles are “Project Managers, Business Analysts and .NET professionals1”. CIOs have a number of challenges in recruiting or developing project management capabilities to ensure projects are successfully delivered to the organisation.


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Conclusion: Most organisations have more ICT enabled projects and initiatives than they can possibly deliver. A significant number of CIOs report that gaining business consensus to prioritisation of projects can be an extremely difficult and often emotional process.

While availability of budget is a common qualifying criterion for ICT project progression, it is often not the biggest constraint. By applying a relatively simple project prioritisation framework to the list of projects waiting to be undertaken, CIOs can develop a program of work that is achievable and can be agreed across the organisation.


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Conclusion: Australian ICT organisations are under constant pressure to deliver a higher level of service to customers and stakeholders, at reduced cost in relation to both capital expenditure and on-going operational costs. In addition, there is an increase of vendors in the market offering outsourced services relating to infrastructure, software solutions, business processes or a combination of all of these. As CIOs and CEOs start to consider how best to structure themselves to meet organisational expectations, there could be a wave of new “Hollow ICT” service models implemented across the country.

With a focus firmly on the benefits of outsourcing, all too often CIOs ignore the real costs, benefits, risks and impacts of implementing a leaner internal organisation which leads to reorganisation of ICT area as a reaction and not part of the forward planning.


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Conclusion: Governments across Australia have been engaged in Shared Services initiatives for almost a decade. Decisions taken over the last two years to abandon, de-scope or rethink Shared Services by these same Governments demonstrate that the traditional model has not worked and a different perspective is needed. Perhaps knowledge/wisdom can be drawn, not from other government shared services initiatives, but from a completely different business model such as franchising? In franchising it is about having a great product with repeatable and standardised business process, great customer service and a growth strategy.


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