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Science Museum Head of ICT Jason Oliver interview - Catalyst for transformation

Edward Qualtrough | March 10, 2017
Science Museum Head of ICT Jason Oliver discusses reinvigorating the IT team and technology stack at one of the world's most visited museum groups.

With close to 100 major business projects now on the horizon, Oliver said that now the IT function was being asked to be involved from an early stage, a significant move forwards from its previous positioning within the organisation.

"Historically IT would have been consulted the day before we went live with the gallery much like the Cosmonauts; now we're there on day one," Oliver said. "Actually here we can steer it from the outset, and that's really important for us.

"We've gone from not knowing what the demands were of the business to having 80 active demands sitting in our backlog at the moment.

"We'd rather be in a position knowing that the business is trusting us to drive this stuff forward and that we know what we've got coming through the pipeline than how it was before and actually we were the department of no.

"Now it's much more about yes, we can do that, but we need to manage expectations that we probably can't start that until June or we can't start that until September. We're able to articulate now back to other departments the reason why we can or can't do certain things."

Embedding IT

To complete a full integration and turnaround, Oliver's end-goal is a future where technology does not even exist as a separate department let alone archipelago adjacent or siloed from the rest of the organisation.

"I don't want IT to be looked at as an independent function in the future. I'd like to get it to a point where the things that we're doing are embedded in all of the other departments, and we had quite a minimalistic approach to IT as an independent function."

Oliver's strategy has involved restructuring and empowering the IT team to relay the foundations across the group in order to serve the needs of all of the organisation's customers.

The technology chief now has four heads of department who are direct reports: a head of business engagement and intelligence, a project management office, a head of design and architecture, and a head of technology operations.

Oliver said that the new challenge of an invigorated team that likes its new methods of operation is that the expectations on the department and of the department have grown.

"The restructure started to bring out people's confidence in ourselves; it's certainly got more people motivated about the change," Oliver said. "I'm really lucky that everyone bought into what I was trying to do.

"They have responded brilliantly. Some people have really stepped out of the shadows and just become absolutely crucial to everything we're trying to do. My senior management team stepped up."


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