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Is 'fit for purpose' the new government IT agenda?

Pankaj Chitkara | June 18, 2013
Trying to meet every demand leads to a decline in performance and dissatisfaction with the IT function.

Value player: This IT division focuses on cost and efficiency. It has mastered standardisation and basic functionality, rolling out each service as broadly as possible to maximise the return on investment while greatly limiting the number of products, variations and services.

Technology leader: Drawing on advanced technological prowess, this IT division provides leading-edge support for innovative products and services. This type of agenda might help the agency cross the "capabilities gap" most effectively to become a whole-of-government leader.

Service broker: To provide scale and consistency, this IT division integrates services from external vendors into an end-to-end solution that can be delivered to citizens, as well as to partner agencies and global parties.

Capability builder: This IT division is closely involved in the design of new practices and processes. The agenda goes beyond a purely functional shared-service role to a strategic partner role, helping to deliver the agency's core mission.

The choice of the role and agenda will depend on the core mission, essential capabilities of the agency and how ICT will respond to the priorities of the agency. While most ICT divisions will centre on one primary archetype, there may be slight variations that reflect the unique situation of the agency.

For instance, the Department of Human Services' (DHS) mission is to work with the community, service providers and partners to deliver innovative and easy to access services.

Based on this mission, DHS might choose a hybrid of 'capability builder' and 'operator' IT function role. The department might invest in customer relationship management, social media and smartphone integration capabilities as well as a service catalogue aligned to individual business units.

At the same time, the agency may also focus on service delivery excellence and reliability by reducing duplication of systems, modernising critical platforms, and optimising infrastructure.

A similar agenda may also exist within agencies such as Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC). DIAC's strategic intent is to "play a key role in building Australia's future through well-managed movement and settlement of people."

It is both a policy development and service delivery agency, and its IT function will benefit from having capabilities that support quality, responsiveness and innovation.

A smaller agency however may have a different IT agenda. For example, Airservices Australia's purpose is "to provide a safe, secure, efficient and environmentally responsible service to the aviation industry."

While Airservices may want to invest in specialised technologies that allow it to perform its core business of airspace management, it may benefit from adopting a 'value player' or 'service broker' ICT function.

This function would minimise back-office activities, impose strict controls over demand and portfolio management, have a simple, standardised service catalogue, and a robust, scalable network and infrastructure.


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