Beware of quick and easy wins

IT managers using low-hanging fruit, quick runs on the board and easy wins to sell the virtues of new technology deployments to management need to ensure they are not creating lemons in the process.

Speaking about the lessons learnt from implementing what is now a highly successful business process and IT restructure, Don Kofoed, chief operating officer of the Queensland government employees' superannuation fund QSuper, said both technology departments and business and need to check the use-by date and potential consequences of their pilot projects.

Having amassed $17 billion in members' money to manage since the introduction of compulsory employer surperannuation payments, Kofoed said that, while his organization is now electronically fighting fit, it had learnt that a fast return on IT investments doesn't always deliver immediate benefits.

"We were seduced by easily measureable benefits [to prove our business case]. My feeling now is that we should have gone broader rather than deeper," Kofoed said of QSuper's rollout of new technology.

Part of the problem for so-called quick wins is that while they may demonstrate value to various lines of management, the true benefits of an IT-enabled business process restructure comes from the ability to transform an entire organization rather than merely parts of it, Kofoed added.

He frankly concedes the pervasive appeal of fast success in management and vendor cultures alike.

Less glamorous aspects of an IT project, like accurate scoping, can be easily overlooked in favour of sexier numbers.

"We should have reviewed our processes more thoroughly - we paid the price. But we wanted the technology quickly," Kofoed said.

Kofoed said the use of Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) had paid off in spades, reducing operational costs by 14 percent.

Additionally, the fund identified that up to 30 percent of pre-restructure, customer-initiated transactions [rather than automatic deductions] were unnecessary, because they were the result of "failed processing the first time around".

Another bugbear put to bed was manual processes that created poor data quality for customer service staff, which pushed-up costs and created a bigger risk for the fund.

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