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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 the associated 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 problems areas that if overcome, can make a significant difference in the benefits that organisations will derive from best practice implementation.
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Conclusion: Working remotely has become the default option for most companies in the new normal setup. Although this has led to rising demand in technological tools and IT systems, it is unlikely the tech industry will be spared widespread job cuts – already such cuts are being seen in some industry sectors. With the world bracing for recession, companies are cutting down on costs and tightening budgets wherever they can.
Understandably, the current state of job insecurity is creating anxiety in employees who have retained their jobs. IT staff are justifiably feeling insecure and this is likely to affect some employees’ work performance. Such anxiety is a major issue that needs to be recognised and addressed quickly and effectively in order to enable the company to maximise its existing resources both during the economic downturn and as it starts to grow again.
Conclusion: Since the rise of personal computing in the 1970s, organisations have focused on acquiring digital tools and, since the late 1990s, on promoting digital skills. While we are now in the midst of the fourth industrial revolution, where digital skills are essential, the so-called soft skills of employees also need to be constantly updated and upgraded.
Conclusion: Organisations should tap into their management team (department heads, managers and team leaders) to keep their working-from-home employees committed to the organisation. These organisational leaders have the most direct relationships and therefore are the most qualified to invite engagement from employees and other stakeholders. However, new models for engaging and measuring employees are needed that reflect the shift to virtual teams and virtual management: there is a shift from managing by activity to managing by trust.
Conclusion: When cost cutting of IT services is on the executive agenda, due to the impact of COVID-19 virus, will it yield low hanging or sour fruit? One area often regarded as low hanging fruit is the amalgamation of SPOC (single point of contact) activities, viz. help desk, service centre and contact or call centre. Combining them is a compelling proposition and demands an informed response.
Put simply, the logic used by management, seeking to amalgamate and reduce costs, is:
Conclusion: While there is no perfect approach to restructuring an IT services department, there are fundamental principles (set out below) that must be followed, to get it right first time. If these principles are not followed, staff resistance to the changes proposed could impact staff morale.
Conclusion: There are many benefits in taking a break during the holidays that go beyond just recharging the batteries. However, along with the seemingly obvious benefits, there are also some traps for the unwary. On the flip side, there are some benefits to working in the office during the quieter periods, so take time to prepare and plan for the holiday period: develop sound strategies for all staff and above all, be authentic with setting expectations.
Conclusion: Successfully hiring new employees can bring lots of benefits to an organisation – improved productivity, employee morale or business outcomes, to name just a few. Equally, poor hiring decisions can be extremely costly to an organisation. Having to dismiss someone who was recently hired but proves to not be a good fit for the role can impact the organisation in many ways, and usually at a higher cost than the direct costs associated with the actual recruitment process.
HR tech is a rapidly growing field of software solutions that are designed to help improve the recruitment process, with the ultimate goal of helping organisations improve their hiring outcomes.
Organisations wishing to improve their hiring effectiveness or efficiency should consider the emerging new recruiting solutions and how they may help address any identified problem areas in their current recruitment efforts. But caution needs to be taken, especially for artificial intelligence (AI) solutions that may be built on historical data that results in bias, for example giving preference to particular genders.
Conclusion: The current Business Relationship Managers mostly act as a service desk to manage the implementation of business stakeholders’ service requests. While this is an important business relationship function, the current incumbents are not engaging with business stakeholders’ strategic discussions that require the selection and implementation of new technology that can improve the business presence and performance in the market. As a result, Business Relationship Managers are not earning a “trusted advisor” status. The Business Relationship Manager’s job focus and skills should expand to promote the value of IT services that contribute to business value creation, measurement and communication. This should allow the IT organisation to become the service provider of choice.
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.
Conclusion: Whilst many organisations in Australia cite the lack of available IT skills to be a threat to their future growth or ability to complete digital transformation initiatives, Australia has a large often untapped pool of potential employees in candidates on the autism spectrum.
It is estimated that around 60 to 80 per cent of employable adults with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) struggle to find full time or steady employment, and those that do find employment are often underemployed, that is, employed in roles below their educational or professional level1. Recently tech companies have recognised this opportunity, and programs underway in Australia are successfully identifying, recruiting and supporting individuals on the autism spectrum with the potential to excel particularly in testing, data science and cyber security roles. All are high growth areas for employment.
"Future-proofing your ICT team: Predictions and mitigation" IBRS, 2018-02-01 10:12:40
"Get serious and make IT staff upskilling a reality" IBRS, 2018-07-05 03:08:00
"Key skills to develop" IBRS, 2018-05-04 18:53:57
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.
Conclusion: During January to March 2018, IBRS conducted a detailed market scan of eForms vendors and their products in the Australian market. The market scan was structured around common selection criteria and comparisons developed. The following snapshot summarises the results of the study, and may be used to assist with the development of eForm and workflow solution shortlists.
This snapshot includes eForms solutions that are in use within Australian organisations
"How to succeed with eforms Part 1: Understand the need" IBRS, 2018-01-03 05:42:10
"How to succeed with eforms Part 2: The five most common eforms challenges" IBRS, 2018-02-01 10:06:14
Conclusion: Driving cultural change and managing the impact of change across an organisation when implementing a new business application is a key challenge for the leadership, including the CIO. By adopting change management practices, a business can increase its projects’ rate of success and user adoption of the new technology and business processes from 16 % up to 96 %1.
With the implementation of business applications or tools such as a new ERP finance system, HCM/HRIS payroll system or a new CRM system, the business users’ roles and day-to-day business processes can be significantly changed. Assessing and addressing the change impact with the employees during the planning phase and during the project implementation will increase the user adoption rates.
Conclusion: Organisations are under pressure – pressure to keep limited budgets in check and pressure to deliver more in short time frames. Full time headcount is down and a significant amount of the work undertaken by organisations is project based. This has driven many recruitment practices including the engagement of skilled professionals to deliver on those projects. Induction processes are limited as this is seen as an overhead when it is critical to focus on the desired outcomes. As a result, organisations are limiting their resource pool and the benefit that experience in other sectors can bring. In addition, there is limited focus on what longer-term contribution or skills transfer can be provided for the broader workforce as they transform towards a digital workforce. Unless recruitment and resource management practices change, staff and skills shortages will continue to dominate the CIO risk list.
Conclusion: Business and IT professionals struggle with how to frame their message so it engages the reader and has immediate impact. To get the reader’s attention, it is important to pose a business problem, or an unacceptable situation that is pre-occupying the reader, and provide a solution on the same page.
Conclusion: It is difficult to plan when innovation will occur. It is particularly difficult for established organisations to be innovative – they have been successful through sound business practices and an ability to execute, not innovate. Nearly all organisations, both public and private, understand and accept that innovation and the ability to change is critical to success and ongoing viability. However, the very structure of organisations could be killing ideas and management processes can slow change down to a glacial pace. Budget cuts and efficiency measures have largely been focused at the operational level which means that there are less resources to do the same or more work, and then there is the added pressure of being innovative. Real change is effected when the change is applied throughout the organisation, starting at the executive level.
Conclusion: The ability to inspire as a leader is becoming more recognised as a core management and leadership skill. What does not change overnight are the most innermost core values of how an inspirational leader behaves. Through their leadership they inspire others to perform and succeed, making a positive difference not just internally within the organisation, but also with every employee who has been touched by their inspirational abilities.
Conclusion: Effective ICT project managers are essential to the successful running of any ICT-led change initiative. They provide a necessary level of trust and confidence to the CIO and are a key resource for any effective CIO running a large mix of ongoing and change initiatives.
Conclusion: In organisations across Australia, there is a push for digital and business transformation. Many of these same organisations utilise business analysis in a traditional way which results in the standard capture of requirements and the conversion of requirements into system specifications without really challenging business processes. In addition, there is often a trend of allocating too many responsibilities to a single role and not providing appropriate authority to the role of rigorously analysing processes, systems and requirements, which will impact on many digital transformation activities.
Business Transformation needs comprehensive analysis and a complete reassessment of the process or analysis with a capital “A”. Failure to objectively and fearlessly review and remove outdated processes and system functions will result in a failure to appropriately transform the business for the future.
Conclusion: Too often the CIO or program/project executive will focus on the more tangible aspects of developing a new ICT system, bunch of processes, environments and the like only to have the new initiative fail as a result of risk averse and increasingly change weary and cynical employees1. Successful leaders need to spend increasing time and effort on getting all stakeholders on-side at all levels to implement and make sustainable positive change.
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.
Conclusion: Technical debt is intangible and its extent hard to measure. Organisations that compromise quality for expediency to meet schedules or defer software release upgrades accumulate technical debt unwittingly.
Managers who let the debt increase and fail to reduce it could be digging an ever deeper and dry well that could cost them their jobs, leaving their successor to find the wherewithal to fill it and create valuable system assets.
Conclusion: It is widely recognised that public sector organisations do not have the same market drivers as private enterprise to be able to innovate in the same way. Drivers such as competitive forces and profit incentives stimulate and support breakthrough innovation. However, by understanding the elements that are active when breakthrough innovation occurs and reframing it within the context of the government sector, significant benefits and progress can be achieved.
Conclusion: To improve the digital maturity of an organisation the CIO must encourage a team effort from business and technical areas within their organisation as well as strategic partners in the IT industry. Laggard IT vendors should be dropped in favour of digital leaders. The CIO will also need to convince their organisation to make early investments in long term capabilities that are critical to the adoption of new digital initiatives.
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.
Conclusion: Most organisations have an unbalanced ICT investment portfolio where back-office systems (including ICT operations) consume more than their fair share of the ICT budget and capability. Consequently, emerging initiatives may fail to gain organisational support relevant to their potential business and organisational benefits.
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.
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.
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.
Conclusion: Most Software Asset Management (SAM) Maturity models are theoretical and do not provide an organisation with a pragmatic way to consider SAM in the context of their organisational objectives. IBRS proposes an alternative that provides organisations with a basis to plan gradual, incremental improvements in both technology and, more importantly, organisational culture.
"Software Asset Management Maturity Part 2: A Process for bootstrapping maturity" IBRS, 2014-06-29 00:00:00
"Software Asset Management Maturity Part 3: Aligning Architecture" IBRS, 2014-07-29 11:24:24
"Software Asset Management maturity Part 4: Approaches for selecting a solution" IBRS, 2017-07-03 23:42:13
Conclusion: CIOs have a pivotal role in ensuring business and IT transformation and major change initiatives succeed. As they are both disruptive to business and IT operations and typically involve retraining staff while implementing new information systems, CIOs must be innovative and exercise a strategic leadership role. If they do not, project failure is almost inevitable.
Conclusion: Cloud computing offers many opportunities for organisations. There are shifts in the market which are producing an increase in third party cloud brokers who are offering to undertake an agent role between organisations and the many cloud service providers that are appearing in the market.
However, the reality is that for the next few years most organisations will adopt a hybrid model which requires the ICT organisation to manage the adoption of cloud services with legacy services. The transition period offers an opportunity for CIOs to position themselves as the broker of ICT services for their organisation, but will often require a shift in attitude and focus.
Conclusion: IT managers, who aspire to become CIOs, must not only work hard but actively support business projects in order to succeed. Having a track record of successfully completing projects and winning the respect of peers will go a long way towards convincing senior management of fitness for the CIO role.
Conclusion: Senior IT managers will in future look back on 2013 as the year their priorities changed from applying new technologies to enhancing client services in order to enable the organisation to achieve its business objectives. Put simply business management, which was paying the piper, decided it was time to change the tune.
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.
Conclusion: Maintaining innovation while gaining clarity and control over IT operations is a fine balancing act, especially in organisations that are seeing rapid growth. IBRS recently conducted a series of interviews with Australian CIOs regarding their approach to this dilemma. This research note outlines the different approaches taken by these CIOs, and the impact of their personal philosophies regarding staff development on the IT Operating Model.
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.
Conclusion: Whether it be market pressures, skills shortages, budget shortfalls or a combination of these factors, it is important for organisations to imbed a culture of innovation into their businesses; not only to address the many issues facing them today, but also for the inevitable challenges that will arise in the future. There are no hard and fast rules for an innovative organisation. CIOs may be concerned that embarking on innovation activities may be costly, time consuming or a distraction from the more immediate operational needs of the organisation. Conversely, CIOs may be looking for ways to increase morale and build closer relationships with business areas within their organisation.
Conclusion: Research shows that flexible workplaces result in improved productivity, increased revenue, lower staff attrition and higher staff morale. Numerous surveys indicate that the majority of employers and business managers support flexible workplace arrangements. But is this widespread recognition translated into actively marketing and promoting flexible workplace arrangements to prospective employees? The answer appears to be a resounding NO. In addition, are there specific areas that are experiencing high demand and short supply that benefit from offering flexible workplace arrangements? There are a number of professions that are well suited to flexible workplace arrangements including in demand roles such as business analysts. IT Leaders can utilise flexible workplace arrangements as an incentive when recruiting in demand roles as it can increase the candidate pool.
Conclusion: One of the most challenging tasks for a CIO is to implement cultural change, or transformation, so it energises people and cements the business relationship with clients and suppliers. Instant success is unlikely. This is because implementing cultural change takes time as relationships have to be nurtured, trust engendered and staff empowered.
Conclusion: In the current economic climate with potential scaling back of discretionary investment in IT, and data suggesting a decline in the number of IT skilled staff entering the workforce, CIOs have to weigh up many factors before deciding whether to hire permanent IT staff or engage contractors.
Conclusion: It would be unusual to find a C-level executive who doesn’t have at least a glancing admiration for companies such as Apple, Google, Amazon and Intel1. All are highly successful and all are known for their innovative cultures.
Conclusion: Programs aimed at reducing IT and business operating costs are more likely to succeed if the targets are realisable, stakeholders committed and there is a clear roadmap for the journey. Conversely, cost reduction programs that have unrealistic targets, or are the brainchild of senior managers and linked to their incentive bonuses, are unlikely to succeed.
IT due diligence is primarily undertaken to understand the target business IT systems with a view to establishing the resources and costs involved in integrating them into the acquirer’s IT systems, the possibility of the target business having a more suitable IT infrastructure already in place should not be ignored. The IT due diligence exercise must be exhaustive and particular emphasis placed on reviewing and understanding contracts with third parties and the possibilities of rationalising software licences. These are areas where value can often be added in the form of cost savings and improved processes.
Conclusion: Evolutionary changes in the composition of the IT workforce 1 will continue to occur in mature organisations in next 3 to 5 years, but in immature organisations, where the focus is on today’s operations only, revolutionary change will be needed to enable the IT workforce to maximise the benefits from IT-related investment.
Fuelling the need for change in the IT workforce is the continuous enhancement of desk top and business process automation software combined with an increasingly IT literate workforce keen to exploit the latest technologies. In the opposite corner is the need to maintain business systems as usual, keep costs under control and minimise risks from uncontrolled use of the Internet. Senior management’s role is to hold the competing interests in tension.
Conclusion: IT related governance processes in a federated business model, i.e. where autonomous business units or divisions have own IT staff and resources, must focus on what is needed to achieve the strategic objectives of the organisation and at the same time help each unit achieve its potential.
The governance processes typically presume each business unit will cooperate and contribute resources and expertise to the organisation when requested. It is axiomatic that failure to cooperate in the governance, or decision making, processes will frustrate efforts to get the best outcomes for the organisation.
Conclusion: Industry and research publications have cogitated for many years on the CIO’s role and responsibilities. Some recent articles in journals have speculated the role will become redundant due to emergence of information systems or point solutions owned and operated by business units.
Whilst some organisations operate point solutions from within business units, e.g. equities trading desks in wholesale banks and exploration systems in oil and gas companies, the reality is that these organisations also have statutory reporting and corporate compliance requirements. These requirements force them to consolidate financial and other data typically under the remit of the CIO or equivalent.
Other commentators emphasise the supply side of the CIO role and assume IT literate business managers will occupy the demand side an act as informed buyers. In my observation this is less than ideal as the buyers typically have stretched performance objectives leaving them little time for involvement in IT related matters.
Conclusion: The capacity to understand and transform business data into knowledge and use it for commercial gain is one of the differentiators of a well performing organisation or agency. How this might be achieved is the focus of this article.
Conclusion – Restructure roles and responsibilities of staff only when there are compelling reasons and apply the guiding principles, as set out below, when designing the new structure.
Conclusion: Virtual Teams have become common in most organisations, and technology and globalisation have been the major enablers. Leaders and team participants have found themselves as participants by default and without choice.
For many, little training or education has been provided to help individuals recognise that their future work environment is going to change, and what new skills or competencies need to be developed.
To effectively utilise Virtual Teams, organisations need to develop a culture that recognises how teams will be used, what tools will be used for communication and collaboration, and education for both leaders and team members.
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