Wanted: CIO to energise IT governance

Energy Australia is on the lookout for a new chief information officer (CIO) who can bridge the divide between business and ITas it looks to complete an overhaul of IT governance. The energy utility, which employs around 250 technology professionals, will this year recruit a new technology chief after changing its IT structure in mid-2005.

Energy Australia is on the lookout for a new chief information officer (CIO) who can bridge the divide between business and IT as it looks to complete an overhaul of IT governance.

The energy utility, which employs around 250 technology professionals, will this year recruit a new technology chief after changing its IT structure in mid-2005.

At that time, the state-owned corporation created an executive-level IT steering committee, which required a quarterly cross-department meeting of business and IT units to determine expenditure on technology.

Technology staff at Energy Australia manage around 3,500 seats, and a number of major business platforms such as SAP, Oracle and Lotus Notes. The business supplies gas and electricity to around 1.5 million premises.

The committee is a concerted effort to ensure the IT department meets the business' needs, according to Richard Childs, IT project delivery manager at Energy Australia: "The big thing is business alignment," he said of the committee.

"Whatever we spend money on, it will be agreed by the business…. We won't be viewed as trying to push our own ideas, and we'll be seen as being on the right track," he said.

Prior to establishment of the committee, it had been "pretty easy" for the IT group to push their ideas through the business themselves, according to Childs, who sited a portal project last year as one sign of the disconnect between business and IT at the organisation.

"It was driven by Corporate IT [a unit within Energy Australia], and it struggled… Now it's being brought back to life and being applied to more business projects. The business is driving it, not IT," said Childs.

One of the major changes in IT structure occurred in June last year when Energy Australia decided to split the structure of the IT department into two lines of business -- Finance, overseeing the Corporate IT group, and Shared Services, overseeing IT Operations and IT Project Delivery.

Childs said the decision was about providing focussed IT delivery and initiating a review of IT governance, which began in September.

However, since that time, CIO Jerry Sadlowski left the organisation, forcing a delay in the governance review.

"The heads of IT Operations and Corporate IT were the driving force [behind the governance review]… There was agreement, but it never hit the ground… At this stage, we're in a state of limbo," Childs said.

The steering committee will be the main decision forum for the CIO, who will discuss IT priorities with other committee members from departments such as retail and shared services.

With the CIO on board, the steering committee could herald a new era for IT staff and the direction of technology operations at the utility, according to Childs.

"The business and the central IT groups haven't played together much before, so it could be a bit of a turning point… The main thing that will change will be an understanding of what we're delivering. We'll be delivering services that are important to the business," said Childs.

The CIO role is being filled in an acting capacity while the company searches for a suitable candidate, according to an Energy Australia spokesperson.

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