The role and responsibilities of the CIO must change in order for the public sector to create a successful shared services model.
Steve Hodgkinson, research director at Ovum, addressed a group of IT professionals in Sydney and said the role of the CIO must be re-thought at the government level.
“Shared services puts the CIO in a spotlight. Government still thinks shared services will downgrade agency CIOs and save them more money. That’s a big flaw in thinking. It’s about mature functions and managing these,” he said.
Hodgkinson said the power of the CIO will only be increased if a shared-services mindset is adopted across the government sector.
“What I’d like to reinforce is that shared services strategies make the role of CIO more important than in the past,” he said.
Hodgkinson said the reason so many shared services projects have failed in the past was due to unrealistic expectations of these projects.
“When we come to a shared service discussion, we all know the reality of a public sector organisation – there are many siloed departments. Operational autonomy has a deep seated, long historical base attached to it, and preserving autonomy is a prized possession to CEOs and other government based leaders.
“Shared services are a fantastic idea that creates real financial benefits, but it’s deeply uncultured when it comes to looking at how government agencies work,” he said.
Hodgkinson said while many government projects with a whole-of-government aspect to them may be successful in the initial stages, it’s often hard to make these changes ‘stick’.
“I like to think about shared services projects in three phases – making the case, creating the services and making it stick. The first two are often easy to get through, but how do we think about making that service stick. Making the case is hard, but making it stick is harder in government,” he said.
One way Hodgkinson advised CIOs to make these projects successful was to be realistic about expectations.
“Having a good hard think about what’s required to get this to stick in the long run is necessary. Getting the laptop goggles off is important. It’s all about benefits, numbers and a rational discussion,” he said.
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