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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.

The aim is to have everyone move once onto the final platform, rather than involve them in a series of interim moves, he says.

The change will also embrace other necessary modernisation on the ICT front "There's a lot of [Windows] XP out there, so we have to go through an upgrade process regardless." Some teams in the constituent departments are already using Windows 7, he says; the former Ministry of Economic Development is probably furthest advanced in that respect.

Will the combined agencies adopt one agency's existing processes and technology in areas where this is clearly best practice, as the ANZ Bank largely adopted the National Bank's way of doing things in its merger ?

"We're still working our way through that, but I think it's fair to say some systems are more current and more appropriate and fit for purpose [than others]. After doing some analysis, we'll make our decision about the platform we move to and that the others will fold into or migrate towards. All agencies will move to Windows 7 on the desktop "and we're dealing with security issues and compliance issues that were on the table a while ago."

He sees, not surprisingly, potential synergies between the work of the constituent agencies. "In some respects I'm still trying to work through what those might be as I try and get an assessment on what the four foundation agencies delivered in their current forms, then look towards opportunities of either refresh or upgrades.

"But certainly there's a lot of duplication out there, even in simple things like telephony systems," Shera says. "The opportunity to provide an application like Lync desktop-to-desktop unified communications, where we bring together desktop videoconferencing from an internal perspective, will be quite exciting.

"Today we run a number of separate call-centre operations. There are bound to be some synergies as they come together, from sharing premises and sharing systems and delivering a more effective service," he says,

Going public

Shera has spent more than a decade of his recent career in private industry, with EDS, HP and Datacom, but he came into EDS from Government Computing Services in 1999, and has an extensive background in public-sector computing too.

The beginning of his management career, he says, was managing the Wanganui law-enforcement computer centre at the time the development of new planned police system, Incis, had to be terminated.

"Then EDS came along and we shut the Wanganui Computer Centre down and relocated people and teams. I came down to Wellington and got to be part of the EDS team integrating the Databank organisation." Then as EDS "grew and grew", he played a role in a number of major integrations with that company. "Big integration projects and big complex technology solutions have been at the core of my career over the years.

 

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