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CIO Upfront: 'If this were new, what would you do?'

Stuart Haselden | July 29, 2014
Stuart Haselden, director of IT services at Victoria University of Wellington, suggests organisations should ask this question when making important decisions.

These questions cannot be answered in isolation, but must be planned across the entire system. Being an old established company does not mean we can change everything overnight but we can at least plan to do it over the next few years.

I recently held a meeting with one of our vendors and my staff. We were discussing a long-standing issue and after 20 minutes we were still no closer to resolving it. We stopped and asked ourselves: If we were a brand new university, setting up from scratch, how would we provide this service?

We all looked at each other and within about 20 seconds the decision was made. We all knew what we should do, but with all the history and different issues from the past it was difficult to make a clear decision. We were making decisions based on the 2 per cent instead of the 98 per cent.

If we were a brand new business setting up next week with 200 staff and growth projections of 20,000 customers, would we run our own email system? Would we run our own infrastructure, backup? Of course the answer to these questions is going to depend on what your business is but if you were brand new the options now are much larger than they used to be.

However, for some companies there may be zero strategic value in running their own email system. It just takes time, money and resource with no defined outcome that sets you apart from your competitors.

If you get the opportunity when you need to make some key decisions in the next days or weeks, have a quick mental check, "If this were new, what would I do?"


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