In recent years, microprocessor vendors have begun designing chips with more than one processing unit, or "core," on the chip in an effort to boost performance for certain types of applications. As far as the software running on the systems is concerned, dual-core chips appear to be two separate processors, raising the question of whether or not they should require two software licences.

Read more ...

We have recently been successful in winning two significant projects in Western Australia associated with the construction of the South Western rail link between Bunbury and Perth. These projects, which have a combined value of around $400m, are for the provision of infrastructure for the railway line which, as well as including several bridges (Package E), also involves tunneling under the Perth CBD to the Central Railway Station (Package F). Package F is a joint venture in partnership with Kumagai from Japan, a relationship that brings its own set of problems.

Read more ...

Conclusion: Before IT managers can start to measure targets against a balanced scorecard or any other mechanism it is important to agree with business executives what the targets will be measured and what each target actually means.

IT managers can use a combination of frameworks such as Balanced Score Card and CobiT to set and communicate targets to their staff and the wider organisation.

Read more ...

Conclusion: Unless organisations develop and implement comprehensive Email Management Guidelines and insist on total compliance, the hidden cost of processing emails will continue to escalate.

Read more ...

Conclusion: The predicted business software consolidation marches forward. Eighteen months after initial advances, the U.S. Department of Justice(DOJ) approval has finally paved the way for Oracle to complete its hostile takeover of Peoplesoft.

Read more ...

We have always looked at ADSL with a healthy suspicion preferring to build our corporate network on what we considered a more solid base of Frame Relay or ATM. We reasoned that although ADSL was significantly cheaper, inferior SLAs, inability to ensure quality of service, limited availability and sometimes erratic performance could not provide the robust environment that our business needed. Our attitude was that you get what you pay for.

Read more ...

Cynicism is much too easy at election time as the general impression is that few large differences exist between the players. To understand the policy differences between the contenders Information Age sought some answers from the two main parties which were answered by the two politicians responsible, for the Coalition, Senator the Hon Helen Coonan and for Labor, Senator Kate Lundy.

Read more ...

Conclusion: To maintain a sound business relationship, regularly assess every IT Operations and Development service provider's performance and take corrective action immediately unexpected deviations occur.  Providers that act quickly and fix problems position themselves to get more profitable work from the client.   

Read more ...

A monthly review of all of the sourcing activity

Read more ...

Technologies to support the consolidation of rampant servers continue to make marked advances. Server virtualisation is an approach that can make a consolidation exercise faster, easier and safer. Microsoft''s announcement of Virtual Server 2005 broadens the market and will bring lower licensing costs from the existing alternatives. If VS05 is of interest, then be aware of its limitations and costs.

Read more ...

Conclusion: According to Roy Morgan Research, nearly six million people use a search engine each month and the competition to serve them is becoming more intense. With the July launch of its search engine, Sensis, the advertising arm of Telstra, is marketing its services more aggressively. Over the last few years it has defined a niche for itself in the SME sector of Australian business and aims to capitalise on that relationship for the future.

Despite Google's apparent pre-eminence and Overture's strong ties with major online publishers, Sensis purports to offer a range of products that the two do not have. Competition will be greater now as Overture is directly pitching at the SME sector but with its variety of online properties, Sensis claims to have a suite of services that are appropriate to any type of organisation.

Organisations will benefit from the additional competition in the search and services market and ought to examine the product portfolios of each company to see how they can deliver results through their channels more efficiently.

Read more ...

Conclusion: Many State and Federal Government Agencies across Australia are faced with a dilemma.  Their attempt to restrict the level of ICT salaries for permanent employees has created a situation where Government IT managers cannot compete for quality ICT professionals.  Their only avenue for hiring top-flight staff is through contracting.  This has lead to an excessive dependency on expensive contracting even for day-to-day IT delivery.

Read more ...

Conclusion: Most organisations conduct a business case before making major ICT investments and almost all choose not to invest in a system if its business case does not stack up. 

While all this sounds wonderfully logical, it does not explain how we have made investments in products like e-mail.  Few organisations bothered to conduct a business case for e-mail and even fewer have ever attempted to deliver any benefits from their investment in e-mail.

Read more ...

If you are a lover of ‘Fawlty Towers', you might remember Mrs Richards - arguably Basil's most difficult guest.  No matter what Basil offered to do for her, it was never enough.  Finally, he offered (among other things) to ‘Move Mt Everest six inches to the left'.  I am sure if he had achieved this, she would have complained that it should have been moved seven inches.  Basil's problem was that neither he nor Mrs Richards could agree on a reasonable outcome that would satisfy both of them.

Many IT managers face this very same problem.  They work with business stakeholders on initiatives without agreement on what a successful outcome might be.  Now at this stage most readers are saying, ‘that's not me - we have everything specified'.  Well, specifications are one thing.  The expectations people have deep in their hearts are something else again.

Read more ...

IT organisations that build systems and software piecemeal fashion, using the so-called "Best of breed" components on the market from different vendors, should be aware that "Best of breed" is a dying breed. The increased complexity and cost of these systems rarely can demonstrate the incremental benefits over "Good Enough" solutions to justify the time, effort and expense

Read more ...

Conclusion: Help Desk systems are a mature technology, but capabilities between systems differ widely. Ironically, IT departments are even more likely than other business units to choose systems based on unrealistic and misunderstood business requirements. Often their technology savvy leads them to overestimate the ability of technology to overcome the difficulties of people and process management.  In theory, help desk systems are the obvious choice.  However, if the motivation behind the implementation of a new system is to "manage" an undisciplined, unhappy or untrained team, then a help desk system is unlikely to help.

Read more ...

We are currently engaged in redeveloping a strategic and specialised application system which addresses the company''s requirements for a Management Reporting System. This system brings together the Contract Valuations and Overhead Budgets and is the prime vehicle for forecasting company performance.

Read more ...

A monthly review of all of the sourcing activity

Read more ...

Conclusion: With a growing economy, low inflation and unemployment rate, a talent war for skilled professionals who can act as informed buyers and integrators of Business Solutions is upon us.

Read more ...

Conclusion: The Vision Foundation of Australia estimate that 18% of the population, or nearly four million people, have a disability and a large percentage of those people, have impaired sight. Based on a straw-poll survey of government and private enterprise websites, those disabled people will, or may, not be able to fully access most sites.

For organisations which have not made their sites compliant with the law, a casual attitude is not acceptable. To remedy some problems of access, such as, replacing text for graphics is straightforward. Adaptation, to allow for different browsers as well as voice output and Braille browsers, is also necessary.

Elements of a site including branding devices, such as pack shots, logos, as well as site functionality may also need to be overhauled, which  may mean revising the architecture and or design so that the objectives of the website remain intact.

Read more ...

Conclusion: Despite increasingly affordable prices, basic workflow management systems are  still not widely used in Australian businesses. E-commerce, intranets, websites, corporate email and other desktop automation trends appear to have obscured the basic usefulness and wide application of one of the most powerful technologies brought to market in the last twenty years.

Read more ...

While CIOs and IT staff in USA, and in local affiliates of US companies, are wrestling with the ramifications of Sarbanes-Oxley legislation, Australian CIOs are now coming to grips with the consequences of its local counterpart, CLERP9 (Corporate Law Economic Reform Program 9).    

Read more ...

Conclusion: Company reports used for planning and discussion are not always as clear as they might be. There are a few basic rules which can clarify what is required to be an effective report writer.

Firstly, ensure the argument and the structure is clear; that there is a beginning, middle and end to the flow of ideas to make the report cohesive. Secondly, use short sentences to make the argument unambiguous. Do not rely too much on bullet points in spite of the fact that they are widely used. A sentence argues a case and guides the reader through a thought. On the other hand, a bullet point asserts a point but may not convey an argument satisfactorily.

Most reports will have executive summaries or recommendations. To make the recommendations convincing it is essential that the arguments throughout the body of the report connect with each other. Structure will aid clarity, and these elements are the two hallmarks of good writing.

Read more ...

Conclusion: Better vendors tend to be selective about their clients.  Over the years, I have been in many bid-no-bid meetings where it was decided we would not bid for work with a client because the costs and risks of doing business with them was too high.

Good vendors treat good clients like gold.  Difficult clients on the other hand often attract two types of vendors - vendors who are not good enough to win business from good clients or vendors who charge difficult clients a hidden premium.  Difficult clients can expect low quality service from both types of vendors.  Even the better vendors will put their weaker performers on the accounts of difficult clients.  After all, why would anyone put good people on a painful and generally low profit account?

Read more ...

Conclusion: Organisations that do not treat information security risks seriously could pay a heavy price if a major incident occurs and they are unprepared to deal with it.  

Read more ...

A critical factor in the successful management of PC leasing contracts is the availability of accurate and consistent data that will facilitate the tracking and management of the assets. This factor is frequently overlooked in a Lease vs. Buy decision that is typically focused on TCO and NPV. In most cases, asset information can only be obtained from multiple sources.

Read more ...

A monthly review of all of the sourcing activity

Read more ...

Conclusion: The pay as you grow benefits of Application Service Providers* (ASP's) are finally approaching critical mass in Australia as a result of greater penetration of broadband technologies (cable internet, DSL, satellite and wireless) and more substantive vendor offerings.

Read more ...

Service-level agreements (SLAs) serve as a powerful tool for enabling an IS organisation to understand the business'' definition of adequate service (based on business requirements) and for business communities to understand the support function''s responsibilities. If the services are sourced externally, then they are also one of the most critical factors in the success of the outsourcing relationship.

Read more ...

Conclusion: Increased demands on bandwidth have been growing in the last two years. The Australian Bureau of Statistics' figures for the March - September quarter of 2003 showed a 180% increase in bandwidth usage by business and government. As an index of demand this trend is significant and poses for managers the question of how to plan for bandwidth demand in the future.

Although most organisations differentiate the "backbone" bandwidth, the "peer to peer" bandwidth, LAN bandwidth, and voice over IP bandwidth, from each other, demand on all networks should be assessed overall to forecast how an organisation should manage changes to its requirements.

New applications also put pressure on existing networks. The rapid deployment of applications naturally turns attention to the adequacy of current networks and platforms to deliver those applications. With increases in demand what was once acceptable to a business becomes insufficient. 

The challenge for managers is how to forecast, taking into account temporary surges in demand and also longer term trends.The two techniques below will help managers plan for such requirements:

1. Review the business strategy and the upcoming demands across your organisation and whether current arrangements are suitable for the next two years. This review should include the influence of competition and market conditions.

2. Establish an efficiency benchmark of current communication services to be certain of what is delivered and at what cost. There are many widespread claims as to the additional effectiveness and efficiency from more bandwidth, but these claims are not generally qualified with productivity figures to support them. A clear understanding of the benchmarks will assist future investment decisions.

Read more ...

Conclusion: Effective ICT architectures allow organisations to become smart buyers of applications and infrastructure; and, ensure that technologies work together in a cohesive and effective way.  Attempting an ICT strategic planning project without an effective architecture carries three major risks.  

  1. The planning team will struggle to turn business ideas into ICT initiatives.
  2. The planning team will need to make decisions about potential ICT investments without sufficient time to analyse how well these investments may or may not work with the existing applications portfolio.
  3. Technical implementations may differ from the initiatives specified in the plan through lack of architectural standards.

Read more ...

Conclusion: When the business environment is changing and support systems need to adapt to the change, managers have the option of developing an ITSP (IT Strategic Plan) with a long range focus, or a BSIP (Business Solutions Investment Plan) that  concentrates on investment needed in the next 12 - 24 months. A synopsis of both options is set out below.     

Read more ...

The other day I came across an article, which had been published in the Technology Trends section of New Scientist, entitled "Hack out the useless extras". The author, a Professor of Media Technology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology was discussing what he called "featuritis", which he defined as the drive to pack new releases of hardware, specifically laptop computers, with new features and options resulting in numerous ways to do the same thing with fewer and fewer of them intuitively obvious.

Read more ...

Conclusion: For years many organisations have ignored best practice advice in evaluation and selection.  Inevitably, the choice is to move forward after a couple of vendor demonstrations, or to fast track, do an abbreviated version of a hierarchical methodology. This, unfortunately, can introduce subjectivity, or at least an assertion of personal bias.

Read more ...

Conclusion: Managers that fail to identify the benefits accruing from implementing an ERP will find it difficult to get senior managers to approve investment to upgrade to the next major release of the software.

Read more ...

To date we have been concentrating our efforts on improving the performance of our Help Desk, through better incident and problem management, and through imposing some much needed disciplines on our infrastructure support team by introducing more rigorous and collaborative change management processes. It is true to say that, prior to ITIL, we firmly believed that it was important to resolve as many issues as possible on the Help Desk, without escalating them to Level Two support. We were unaware that this practice was significantly downgrading the level of service we were providing.

Read more ...

26 May 2004: Telstra is sending 450 software jobs to India as part of its outsourcing agreement with IBM Global Services.

Read more ...

A monthly review of all of the sourcing activity

Read more ...

Conclusion: The quality and precision of variables used in a plan will decide the fate of any plan. Variables come in many forms: sales, market trends, technological enhancements and so on.

Practical issues, such as the size of any given budget in a plan, may also influence and qualify the variables. Limitations on available resources may influence decisions to account for all relevant variables.

For example, the existing status of technology, or if a competitor has succeeded to your cost, could yield more realistic and sharper variables for planning.

All variables must be included in a general or master, plan, or in the appendix to it. The reason is straightforward, as it will indicate the thought process used to develop the plan and why. This level of information will also assist in subsequent iterations because the elements are discernible.

Two straightforward techniques can improve planning:

  • 1. Review past plans and the logic that gave those plans coherence.
  • 2. Cluster the variables of your current planning so that the relationship between them and net effect of one versus the other is clear.

By doing so the thought processes within the plan should be focused to everyone involved in the process.

Read more ...

Last month we introduced the concept of a vendor management program. We noted that most mid-size organisations do not consider the full life cycle of product selection; instead, they tend to focus on purchase price alone. IT acquisitions are usually made by the IT department in isolation, without the proper insight of the business requirements and with the primary focus being on "speeds and feeds," price and the ability of a vendor to deliver a solution quickly. This month we provide a framework for the process.

Read more ...

Subscribe

Want to get the latest papers from all our advisors? Subscribe, and we'll send you the information you need.

Invalid Input
Please enter a valid email address
Invalid Input
Please enter your mobile phone number
Invalid Input