Introducing a guide for delivering ICT Services in SME’s

Some time ago as part of my commitments to the CPA Australia IT & Management Centre of Excellence, I was the primary author for a new guide called ‘Delivering information and communications technology services to small to medium enterprises’.  This guide joins the CoE’s other major publications on IT Governance and Business Management of IT in helping businesses manage today’s IT. 

Although I’m listed as the primary author, the new publication draws upon the combined experience of the CoE in making sure ICT does those things that the business needs doing.  Case studies are used to illustrate the advantages and disadvantages of using in-house, managed service provider, or completely outsourced approaches.  A practical approach to managing ICT in an SME so that the business can get what it needs from ICT is provided. 

This new guide is now available for free download on the IT Business Management section of the CPA Australia website. 

Please click the picture below if you’d like to download the complete publication. 

For reference, the other publications that are available are the ‘Business Management of IT’ guide and the ‘IT Governance’ guide:


The last two publications are available from the CPA Store.

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.

IT Governance Day: Is IT governance just for geeks?

Well if it’s Monday – and it isn’t (at least not in Australia) -  that means it is IT Governance day at the blog.  I could start with a fundamental overview of the world of IT Governance and set out an agenda of blog entries for the next few weeks – but I won’t.  That would probably be too ambitious – so I’ll start with a fundamental flaw in, apparently, just about everyone’s thinking.

Tying this post back to the subject line, not only is IT Governance not just for geeks, it isn’t for geeks.  IT Governance is ensuring that the entirety of the IT system works towards achieving business aims and strategy.  It relates to ensuring that the portfolio of IT people, processes, and technologies is in balance.  That role absolutely has nothing to do with IT speak.  And yet I have been approached by journalists and clients alike in the past with the absolute underlying assumption that IT is very technical and that it cannot be managed without an understanding of the technicalities below that threshold. That is absolutely not true and in fact the opposite is true – it is probably less-than-helpful at a Board and committee level  to have that technical understanding of IT.  You do not need to be an IT geek to be on the Board and governing IT operations.  All members of the Board are equally responsible for IT Governance, not just a board member with technical expertise. 

No-one expects a board member to understand how the engines in the fleet of delivery vehicles work – and, news flash, the modern vehicle is fairly complex!  Yet information technology instantly draws shudders of revulsion from some quarters and dark murmuring of witchcraft, magic smoke, and database normalisation (all of which are the blackest of black magic and therefore clearly evil and not to be understood by anyone).  The role of the board member in IT Governance is, in my view at least, to focus on the portfolio of activities, require monitoring and feedback regarding the performance of IT, and to provide direction in the allocation of resources.  Certainly this requires advice from IT professionals – particularly around the area of resource allocation – but good IT Governance does not require that the mechanic be at the board table just because he or she knows how to rebuild an engine.  .

I think the situation that we have has come about because in the past IT professionals have been guilty of portraying IT as some form of dark magic rite, as that was felt to give power and direction over IT.  There is certainly a danger for IT professionals in comjmunicating only half the story behind IT to the board.  I have met with more than a few IT professionals in the past who complain that their IT budget has been slashed because they opened up and tried to explain to the board what was needed.  In most casese, the board listened, heard mutterings of dark magic, and then found a language they could understand – the language of the bottom line.  Which, with great glee, the board slashed – with little regard for what that meant to business outcomes.  The danger here is that IT is seen as a cost rather than a benefit – and the lesson for IT in dealing with the board and those responsible for budget allocations is to focus on the benefits of IT rather than just the costs.

There is a great publication that I was involved with two years ago through CPA Australia called IT Governance:  A Practical Guide for Company Directors, and it is a very accessible and usable publication with great ideas for implementing IT Governance.  It can be purchased here and is something that any company should consider purchasing if they are serious about seeing value from IT. 

I will use this guide as a framework for my future posts around IT Governance.  I will make the note here and now that, as chair of the ITM CoE for CPA Austrralia, there is a publication focussed on the business management of information technology in the pipeline, and a publication of the IT Governance Guide aimed squarely at SME’s.  These will be interesting future publications – probably coming out in the second half of 2007 and first half of 2008 respectively.

How you spend your IT dollar

Sometimes that old plant and equipment should go where it's appreciated - the museumI have been mining the archives for relevant publications to post to the website. The firm in 2001/2002 published a monthly IT issues newsletter (pretty much before we’d heard of blogs). I am intending to publish some select articles that are still relevant to the blog.
The first of these is ‘How you spend your IT dollar‘. By way of note, I believe I eventually gave the bike away to Lifeline, so hopefully there is a teenager out there who is using it to good effect these days. Unless it was still a deathtrap, in which case I hope the teenager’s still quite sullen.

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IT outsourcing – selecting the ‘best’ infrastructure model

This article was published on CEO Online a month or two ago, and I did promise I would post it here eventually.  And as I am of course absolutely certain that there is a raft of readers out there who would like to see the full article on the basis of that promise (delusionment is a wonderful thing) I am posting the article here.

In order to keep us all sane, you will need to click through to see the full article.

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