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Over and Out

Over and Out

On the eve of his retirement as COO of the ANZ Bank, David Boyles sat down with CIO to reflect upon the highs and lows of his long, distinguished career in IT - and why he's glad to finally be getting out.

Over the course of his sterling career, David Boyles has seen the CIO role go from being tough, to being incredibly tough. He believes today's CIOs face a lot more pressure on cost and a lot more pressure to get everything right the first time than ever before. Which is why, speaking just before his much-anticipated retirement as COO for the ANZ Bank last December, Boyles was very much looking forward to being out of it.

"I think the job is much tougher than it used to be . . . And I just think the job is going to continue to be one of the toughest," he said as he contemplated offers to sit on several boards during his planned semi-retirement.

"To be a really great CIO you have to be quite knowledgeable in your field - to have some of the characteristics of a CIO, which is the strategist's side, as well as some of the characteristics of a CTO, which is the get-it-done side of things. You also have to be good with people. I don't see those aspects changing much.

"The need to communicate and get closer to business unit heads will increase, and the skill sets needed around that will probably have to increase. I also believe that anybody coming into the CIO role in any major company today has to have an incredible understanding of costs and cost control and quality. I don't think people can ignore the quality side. A lot of people have thought of software development as sort of an art; in some cases they think it's a black art, in other cases they think it's something really neat."

Indeed Boyles believes a lot of software problems would be avoided if CIOs saw software development as more of a matter of engineering than art. "This is where CMM (capability maturity model) comes in. CMMI (CMM Integration) and TQM and so on will become more important and more essential. So I think the CIO in the future had better understand TQM and CMM and other techniques very well."

It is precisely because the jury is now coming in on the side of software as an engineering exercise that the one disappointment of Boyles's stint at the ANZ is that he did not move to implement more rigorously and quickly its quality programs. Sure, he says, the ANZ - with a couple of CMM Level 5 shops and most other shops certified to CMM Levels 3 or 4 - is still a leader in the field, but the bank could have gone faster if Boyles had been prepared to force the issue.

Failed experiences with Six Sigma and other quality programs caused early resistance to his urgings that the bank move rapidly on CMM, and Boyles charges himself with being too tolerant of the resistors. All organisations in the service industry have had systems that experienced "bumps and outages", he says. If the bank had moved faster it might have been able to minimise these.

"Basically, when you get to CMM Level 4 [or] 5, it's unusual to see big system blow-ups or significant quality issues, so I think we could potentially have avoided a few bumps in the road that we took," he says.

Nevertheless, Boyles is pleased with how much his team has accomplished during his tenure.

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