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Super ministry CIO

Stephen Bell | April 25, 2013
Warren Shera, CIO of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, is faced with the challenging task of reconciling the ICT needs of four departments, which bring very different established needs, priorities and styles of operation to the mix.

Warren Shera, CIO of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, is faced with the challenging task of reconciling the ICT needs of four departments, which bring very different established needs, priorities and styles of operation to the mix.

There are obvious economies to be gained in some areas by establishing more uniformity, he says, but on the other hand, specialist customer-facing functions of the constituent departments have established their own brand and it may be unwise to change some of them.

"A lot of the customer-facing websites and interfaces will still be specific [self-contained] entities, for example the Immigration entity," says Shera. "We'll have to take careful and calculated decisions about the branding that goes into those sites. But from an internal corporate perspective, we'll aim for a single identity."

The MBIE, which got the moniker of 'super ministry' when it was first announced, brings together staff from the Ministry of Economic Development, the Department of Labour, the Ministry of Science and Innovation and the Department of Building and Housing.

The single biggest immediate priority for what has been referred in media as the 'super ministry' is providing everyone with an email address that signals the organisation's new identity -- and giving everyone a "people-search capability" that will let them locate their co-workers in appropriate units of the new ministry.

"That's nothing too sophisticated, but it's a day-one requirement -- and we'll have that running shortly," he says. "Over a period of time, we will move towards and create a single integrated network -- in the sense not only of the telecommunications part, but also the core infrastructure of a desktop unit on a common email system, a common EDRMS [electronic data and records management system], a common telephony system and a common dial plan. Most organisations today would consider that a basically standard commodity.

"So I'll be bringing that together over coming months. It's essential."

Outside the immediate question of the development of a unified ICT environment other pertinent changes are in the wind; by the middle of next year, the new ministry will move its head office to the renovated former Defence building in Wellington's Stout Street. Shera sees this as an opportunity rather than a challenge. The move "forms an excellent catalyst for a change event to form a single integrated capability," he says.

"So what we're planning to do in advance of that building move is to create a foundation MBIE-wide platform, not only in Wellington but throughout the country and in some of the sites we have throughout the world. We will move to that over a nine-to-12-month window" -- though perhaps, he says on reflection, it will take a little longer.

 

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