CPA Australia ITM CoE meeting

Well I’m off to Melbourne again this morning for the first face-to-face meeting of the ITM Centre of Excellence this year.  In some ways we’ve been a bit slack this year – but our work plan is still cranking out because we’ve got the dance card aligned. 

There’s a major publication coming out on the business management of IT (that is very, very excellent and I love Chris Gillies’ and Jan Barned’s work on this one – you’ll be able to buy it online very soon), a research publication on telework has come out (thanks John Campbell from University of Canberra and Jon Heales from UQ- read it on the weekend and it looks good), there’s been an article for the CFO Software Guide that comes out next month (on social networking – thanks me!), and there are two forthcoming articles on the impact of social networking on your career and business (June and July issues).

These last two are for InTheBlack and again, thanks me!

There is also a major publication coming up that is a guide to ICT Outsourcing, which wraps up a stream of work that has been around for a couple of years now. 

CPA Australia has also commissioned me to write a policy and procedure guide to social networking.

As well as that I believe there is a ton of work coming through on the telework research front, and I am down to give three presentations at CPA Australia PD sessions in the next four months or so (Townsville, Brisbane, and Sydney and Melbourne, and Brisbane again). 

As well as continuing on with the IT Specialists assessment panel. 

There is also a total review of the websitre, and our content has been, finally, rebranded as “IT Management” rather than eBusiness, and as well as that we came up with some points to go to the 2020 Summit with.  However I don’t know that that produced very much :). 

So when I say ‘slack’ I actually think I may mean it in the ‘quite busy’ context. 

I think our work plan is still going strong – that will be the focus today and to align the dance card for the rest of the year.  April is a bit late for our first face-to-face meeting but no doubt it will all come together.

On another note – I’m thinking about setting up a video blog on this blog – technically, it’s all sorted.  I just need to find something to say.

The Facebook Anthem

This is really old of course but it sums up a lot of people’s experience with Facebook (now must obsessively stalk facebook friends through status updates.  Bwa ha hahaha).

I’m writing an article on social networking and the pitfalls for young CPA’s – egad, there are so many ways.  Must not huddle in corner…

Billy Joel is probably rolling in his grave – except he’s not dead and hopefully gets some royalties sometime :).  Gotta love that song – the lyrics can be very adaptable.  Oh – and probably Not Safe for Work as it is loud and has some (bleeped) swearing. 


Facebook has become the biggest and ‘baddest’ social networking site on the block – it’s mostly fun but there are FAR TOO MANY APPLICATIONS ALLOWED.  And you should see what happens with your data when you click on these things.  I’ve gotten rid of almost all of mine…

And… Facebook is for friends, LinkedIn is for real work :).

Something in the ether…

Hmmm. The year has been deliberately slow from my point of view to now (but nowhere near moribund – I’ve enjoyed ‘dadding’ it up) but in the past two weeks:

But my ‘networking’ part of my world seems to be paying off as in the last week or two I’ve picked up work with a very good client, been offered a lecturing role at QUT, asked to present at 2 conferences, written a national article for CFO Software Guide (Stitch the wonder cat is now a star), and requested to write another article on social networking for ITB in addition to the one I’m already doing.

And I’m sure there’s stuff I’m missing.

La vie est belle.

Getting IT Right!

This is an article that was written for the February issue of the Queensland Business Review.  It is partly promoting an upcoming ‘Getting IT Right!’ seminar to be held at BDO Kendalls on 21 February 2007.  More information is available on the BDO website


Stories of failing information technology (IT) projects, IT teams that just ‘don’t understand’, lost spreadsheets that contain critical business data, and critical applications that seem to crash for no apparent reason are all too common scenarios. Information technology promises a great deal to all businesses, but often fails to live up to expectations.

These problems cause frustration for all concerned. Unfortunately ‘getting IT right’ cannot be achieved with a simple wave of a magic wand. The current skills shortage shows no signs of abating, and it is important for a business to use its staff effectively. Good business support from information technology is one of the keys to unlocking this effectiveness. Four essential business tactics exist that can assist:

  1. Understand the business strategy
  2. Have the right people
  3. Use standard processes
  4. Use the right technology

These tactics will have a positive impact on the success of your business in the context of the support received from information technology.

Understand the business strategy

An understanding of the business strategy, and the involvement of business in IT decisions, is necessary to avoid an IT team working on the unnecessary projects.

This common problem usually stems from a lack of understanding of the goals and vision of the business when it is tempting to implement technologies that seem to be the correct decisions at the time. Sometimes these decisions are right; frequently, they are not.

A business’s main strategy can be focussed upon product innovation, customer relationships, or operating excellence. Identifying the predominant strategy removes trivial distractions for the IT team. There is little point to significant investment in a customer relationship system where the main focus of the business is upon delivering the best products at the best price. Conversely, for a business focussed upon customer relationships, the priority will be to deliver and operate a customer relationship system.

The business strategy must be clearly communicated to the IT team. A written statement of the business IT strategy is useful (vision, mission, and objectives, together with supporting initiatives and milestones. Even more useful is a cultural emphasis on the importance of the role of IT in achieving the
business vision. Such a cultural emphasis can be achieved through concrete actions (e.g. declining projects that do not support the business strategy) and regular adherence to and acknowledgement of the IT strategic plan.

Aligning information technology to the business strategy will reduce distractions that arise through not having a clear direction of the role and purpose of IT in supporting business goals.

Have the right people

A common problem facing IT teams is that the staffing ratio is all wrong. The wrong staff are doing the wrong jobs for the wrong reasons. For example, a business that employs four network administrators and only one help desk person will likely have a network that works very well at a technical level. Unfortunately, there will be many frustrated end users not receiving the desktop support they require. The result can be business chaos.

IT roles that do not directly support the business strategy should be considered for removal or outsourcing. IT teams regularly have ‘legacy’ roles from the past that are no longer needed or appropriate. A regular review of the roles in the IT area and their alignment to business strategy is a potentially valuable approach.

In addition, end users need the training and skills to use the technology that is provided. Frequently no training is received by IT teams, or end users in the software on their computers, and – especially in the case of upgrades – continue to use the software as it has always been used, without using new features. Adopting a formalised and documented approach to training can be beneficial, but even recognition of the need for training through ad hoc opportunities will bring benefits to the business.

Use standard processes

Often IT teams have only one person who can resolve a problem. Or worse, each team member will resolve the problem in their own way. When the staff member leaves, no-one else can fix the piece of equipment. The end result is chaos and delays for the valuable staff member.

If the same task must be done more than once, the potential for developing a standard process exists. No IT team should be without good help desk software, and ensuring a discipline around managing problems and documenting resolutions will pay dividends. There are free help desk management tools available (e.g. open source solutions) and new social networking tools (e.g. ‘wikis’) for documenting and storing processes and procedures that are inexpensive, simple to use, and easily maintained.

Reviewing the use of help desk management software, and writing procedures for standard tasks (starting with the most common tasks) will repay the business handsomely.

Have the right technology

Technology that is simply wrong for the task at hand, or obsolete, costs businesses a great deal. Excel spreadsheets will frequently be used for tasks that really require a database. Or many technologies will be used where a single technology product would suffice. It is crucial that the right technologies are used for the task at hand. This does not mean that the ‘latest and greatest’ gadgets and gizmos should be adopted, but for a business that is reliant upon IT, it is necessary to have all technology covered by parts replacement warranties.

Technologies that are still supported by the original developers or manufacturers are fundamental to ensuring that the IT team is effective. Limiting the number of technologies to support will also help. Approaches to ensure that the right technologies are used include a statement of the preferred technologies to be used (e.g. identifying a single preferred database technology such as Oracle compared to SQL Server), maintaining warranties on all important business technology equipment, and limiting the use of customised and in-house developed software.


Effective information technology requires that the IT team be provided with the skills and equipment necessary to deliver upon the business strategy. Likewise, the business needs to provide strategic direction and input into decision-making for business information technology.

There are many more tactics that can be adopted by businesses to ensure that IT can deliver upon its promises. This article has highlighted those tactics that are common to most businesses and will have the most positive results. Nevertheless, there are many other tactics that can be adopted that are unique to individual businesses, and must be considered in light of the specific circumstances of the business.

links for 2006-09-12