“Tell me about your business” as an opener will lead to a polite but short meeting, says Cheryl Hannah, First Assistant Secretary for IT Services and Security at the Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs (DIMA). Speaking at the AIIA Canberra Managers’ Forum on Wednesday 12 July, Ms. Hannah reminded the industry audience that there was no excuse for not doing your homework when there was so much information available in the public domain. All the recent reviews conducted of DIMA are on its website, she told the audience, so she has very little patience with intending suppliers who meet with her without having taken the time to do their research.
“We don‟t buy services for the Commonwealth the way you buy used cars”, she said. “If you‟ve got something to offer based on a good understanding of our needs, we‟re willing to listen”. She also warned against glossy brochures, discounts and other marketing ploys.
In much the same theme, Ms Hannah said that she was not looking to „be delighted‟. Instead DIMA expects its partners to provide the resources that DIMA needs right now and who recognise that the business areas responsible for the changes that DIMA must make over the next few years may not yet have complete understanding of all of their requirements. Prospective suppliers needed to be capable of stepping up strategically, and giving business needs “headroom” for development.
Ms. Hannah reflected on her 10 year‟s experience in IT outsourcing, describing the initial relationships as a “rollercoaster sliding on spun glass”. Over time she had learned the value of engagement with strategic partners and the market more generally, and the commercial realities of dealing with the private sector. Ms Hannah continues to chair the Cluster 3 management committee.
With the recent engagement of IBM as strategic partner for the „Systems for People‟ project, DIMA has restructured its IT area. As well as a Deputy Secretary CIO, Bob Correll, DIMA now has two IT divisions, with partner IBM expected to work alongside these two divisions. Attention is focused on disaster recovery, risk assessment and IT governance.
DIMA have established a joint management forum to encourage co-operation between it and its partners– which Ms Hannah listed as IBM, CSC, Optus, Fuji Xerox, and Unisys. Another partner, OSA, provides office services. Ms Hannah is responsible for managing all these partner relationships.
DIMA is now engaged in a transformation of the way it delivers its IT services - there will be much stronger alignment with the business areas which will utilise portals to access all of the information that they need. DIMA expects integrated outcomes which replace the previous silos of services and systems. “Every part of the organisation should be able to see and understand what very other part of the organisation is doing” Ms Hannah stated.
Key amongst these requirements will be:
- obtaining a single view of the client‟s history
- a capability to be sure of the identity of the client
- ensuring that the data held about the client is correct
DIMA has expectations that it will be able to process client information anywhere across its network of Australian and overseas offices, that appropriate integrity and security measures are in place, that the systems provide agility and that this all occurs in a devolved and connected way.
Ms Hannah also outlined a comprehensive and ambitious timetable which was being closely monitored and controlled by Deputy Secretary Correll. This timetable extends up to 2010, but the activities in 2009 and 2010 are not as detailed yet as those for the earlier years.