Friday, 5 March 2010

Professionalising IT

The first session this morning was Ajay Burlingham-Bohr, from Anglia Ruskin University and Andrew Abboud, CIO of City University giving us their experiences of coming from outside of the sector into a University CIO role. Very interesting and informative talk, with some practical advice on how to improve services, and in particular how to manage new developments. Ajay had spent a lot of time getting to know what the issues were, having one to ones with all staff, finding out what the customers thought of the service and what they actually wanted. She also asked staff to complete "timesheets" for a month to find what they were actually doing, but recognised that this should probably be a last resort. SFIA was used to identify staff skills with online tools for self assessment. Processes were discussed and drawn on whiteboards, and this drew attention to to where things were overly complicated, or where sometimes no one knew how something worked - a big box called "stuff happens" - I'm sure we could all find processes like that.

Then processes should be reworked before any restrucutrung can take place - don't pave over the cow paths as Ajay put it. Work out where the new paths should go first.

She began four streams of work in parallel -

Putting out the fires - find out where the bad stuff is and fix it
Develop a strategy - start simple and iterate
Get essential projects started
Transform the IT function - processes and structure are the tip of iceberg here. Culture behaviour and knowledge are by far the biggest issues.

Andrew then picked up with some good advice about projects. First - know how many you've got. They originally thought they can 20, but after a discussion realised they had 64. far too many, and if you can't deliver on current commitments, how can you deliver on future ones? Take time to stop and think. Map projects on to a cost and benefit quadrant and decide which are the priority, focusing primarily on benefits.

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