Austrade mulling Office 2010 move

Austrade, the Federal Government's trade and investment development agency, will this year "take a serious look" at Microsoft Office 2010, according to chief technology Nils van Boxsel.

Austrade, the Federal Government's trade and investment development agency, will this year "take a serious look" at Microsoft Office 2010, according to chief technology Nils van Boxsel.

Nils van Boxsel

Nils van Boxsel, CTO Austrade
(Credit:Nils van Boxsel )

Office 2010 is Microsoft's newest office suite. It has not been hailed as the step change that Office 2007 was from its predecessor Office 2003. In part it has been the smaller scope of these changes, which has meant that the chief information officers of large organisations have not been rushing to upgrade.

However, van Boxsel said looking into a move was on his agenda for this year. The organisation is currently using Office 2003, which would mean some definite changes for workers if the migration goes ahead. But then, 2010 for Austrade will be a year of major upgrades, according to van Boxsel.

"We have some significant projects that will complete in 2010 so I'm really looking forward to final pieces of our network investments and voice over internet protocol (VoIP) being fully delivered in 2010. Of course, we have a bunch of interesting things coming as well. We are taking a serious look at Microsoft Office 2010, enhancing our SharePoint investment, [a] rebuild of our intranet, as well as our strategy for online service delivery over the web," he stated.

Van Boxsel has been operating as CTO as a contractor since May 2008. When the position was advertised last year, van Boxsel applied and was appointed in a permanent capacity in November.

Around that time Austrade also successfully implemented its new customer relationship management solution, Relationship Management Solution (RMS), based on Microsoft CRM 4.0.

"In November last year, we were able to deliver the most significant release to date. Significant because we now have one CRM system to support the way we work with organisations, from offshore investors, Australian exporters, service providers and customers," van Boxsel said. "This is a big deal for us. We have amalgamated and consolidated multiple CRM systems into one single solution to manage all organisations' details."

"We have also done some major work in how we enable virtual teams through information sharing and collaboration, having introduced the use of web conferencing and webinars and our recent deployment of SharePoint 2007 last year as our internal collaboration and information portal we call 'Connect'," he added.

One of the greatest challenges for an IT department is getting buy-in for strategies from the rest of the organisation, according to van Boxsel.

"I've had the opportunity to be able to share some of that broader vision of IT-enabled services, and put in place a more formal approach to an ICT Strategic planning cycle that is visible to the organisation, where we have deliberate consultation and feedback from stakeholders that informs our ICT roadmap. We now have an ICT strategy and plan that is updated and annually endorsed by the Austrade executive, with a clear set of objectives that are well understood by both IT and business folks. I think this is a really positive step forward."

Balancing current and future projects was another challenge, he said.

"We have project imperatives and current areas of focus that we know are important to deliver on and ensure a good result, but we also need to stand back and think about the future investments we make and where we direct our efforts. I hope that I provide some balance of execution and planning along with involvement from the business in informing these priorities," he said.

"This last point is going to be more critical for us in the next 12 months and beyond. As pressures on the operating budget increase, we need to look at how we provide new services and maintain or improve on our current levels of service delivery and support with the resources we have."

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