Sue Johnston

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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.

Conclusion: Australian governments at the federal and state levels have been implementing, modifying, discarding or persevering with shared services models for the better part of 15 years. Most of these initiatives were based on the premise that consolidating corporate service functions into a single entity and providing “shared services” back to the originating agencies would provide significant efficiencies and cost savings. While the concept of shared services does have considerable potential for value creation and efficiencies for government sectors, it is the execution that needs to be rethought.

Shared services operational units need to heed the learnings from other activities including:

  • the entrepreneurial sector
  • application of UCD
  • other service redesign techniques, and effectively generate a spin-off that everyone wants to receive services from.

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Conclusion: Australian Government digital transformation programs tend to adopt the model implemented by the UK Government and use this to develop priorities and implement programs. This will provide line-of-sight improvements and may help to identify some breakthrough options. Additional priorities will ensure that there is appropriate leadership to lead cultural and behavioural changes. In the future, citizen-centric should not mean a better way for each tier of government to deliver their traditional services but that services are designed to meet the needs of the citizens regardless of the jurisdiction or level of government service delivery.


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Conclusion: All organisations have technology partners. Some will have long standing partners and some technology partners will play the role of innovation lead or be responsible for introducing new technologies to their customers. However, relying on these traditional technology partners may prevent organisations from achieving digital transformation goals and may even be detrimental to innovation objectives. Organisations that are successful in the digital era will use innovation as a strategic, systemic and technological lever for establishing and supporting agile innovation cultures, new accountable business management practices and processes, and establish or participate in global industry eco-systems. This means being a capable and proactive organisation and knowing how to utilise technology partners without being led by them.


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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.


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Conclusion: User Centred Design (UCD) and Design Thinking are terms that are often used interchangeably. However, each approach is better suited to different scenarios and understanding the strengths and focus of each approach enables organisations to build capability and processes that leverage the opportunities presented by each to maximise service innovation and new product service design. While often used as approaches to identify and design products and services with a technology focus, they are in no way limited to technology elements. Not only is it important to leverage the most appropriate approach but organisations also need to build and apply skills and knowledgeable internal resources in the most effective manner to yield the expected results from these experiential methods.


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Conclusion: Public policy over the past decade has been considered by many as reactive with resulting implementations ineffective. In 2012, the Institute of Public Administration Australia (IPAA) published a report that reviewed the policy development approach of the Australian Government and determined that approaches could at best be considered ‘Policy on the Run’. It was the opinion of IPAA that this approach was ineffective and that a business case approach would be more effective. UCD provides evidence to support the business case approach and put the community at the centre of policy development.


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Conclusion: Organisations in both the public and private sectors have been actively improving capability and implementing processes and frameworks to improve project delivery effectiveness over the past decade. Project management approaches such as Prince2 and PMBOK have been adopted to improve project management practitioner capability and equip project boards and project sponsors to understand their roles and responsibilities in supporting project delivery.

The Gateway Review Process was designed and implemented as part of assurance activities and was intended to be a supportive and proactive activity that highlighted areas that may impact on successful project delivery thus enabling organisations to take corrective action well in advance of major milestones.

However, based on a number of high profile project disasters in organisations that have implemented the proactive assurance approach of Gateway Reviews, there are some learnings that will assist other organisations to avoid project failure.


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Conclusion: Australian governments at all levels are in the process of rethinking, reimagining and redesigning systems, process and services to improve government service delivery to an ever more demanding community. A number of government jurisdictions have or are adopting a user-centric approach to the design and delivery of a new generation of government services.

User-centric approaches such as User Centred Design puts the user at the heart of design and implementation and focuses on building products and services that are usable and useful through an approach that is inclusive and iterative.

However, simply adopting a fashionable approach under the guise of best practice alone will not provide optimal benefits and often places undue focus on the process at the expense of critical cultural and capability elements. Agencies looking to design and deliver improved government services need to also anticipate and provide for critical success factors such as: what is the most appropriate user approach, what skills and personalities should design teams include and leverage, and what behaviours should user-centric change programs support, encourage and reward to facilitate a successful user-centric program?


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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.


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Conclusion: Organisations source and procure research and advisory services for a range of reasons. The benefits of access to external research and advisory can vary widely from organisation to organisation. Today’s business and technology environment is changing in more radical and rapid ways. Organisations that fully access and embed the information and advice available from research and advisory services can enhance the problem identification and solving process, ensure staff are incorporating a broad range of information into their thinking and systematically include changing environmental information at strategic, tactical and operational decision making levels. Research and advisory can also be used to improve staff analysis and presentation skills. 


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