5 minutes with... Graeme Pattingale, Information manager, Penrith City Council

How long have you worked in IT?

18 years.

How did you get into IT?

When appointed as deputy librarian at Penrith Council, I was given the responsibility of implementing the library’s first computer system and, soon after that, its PC network (Macintosh).

What does your current role involve?

Managing a department consisting of document management, geographic information, customer services, libraries and overall responsibility for information integrity, security and integration.

What systems and applications does the council use?

From Tech 1 — Finance One, Proclaim (rates) Empower (HR), Infomaster GIS & Assetmaster plus many smaller business systems.

What projects and issues are you working on now?

Tender for an information management system — EDMS, customer contact, and workflow.

What is the most challenging part of your job?

Keeping staff motivated and enthusiastic while using obsolete systems. The most challenging part of working in IT generally is keeping abreast of technology developments and choosing the right path or roadmap.

What is your greatest IT challenge?

Security.

How many IT professionals in your team?

Four qualified IT staff in out department (of 80 staff all up) but council has a separate IT department.

Who do you report to, and who reports to you?

I report to the director of City Services; six line supervisors report directly to me.

What is the most pressing issue you face as an IT executive?

Managing change.

What is the toughest decision you have had to make?

Completely replacing a development team — lost 12 months worth of work but the system has finally come together. Cancelling a project and starting again is definetely a tough one.

What is your annual IT budget?

$7 million for the department; $800,000 IT systems projects (2003-4).

What is the size and location of the organisation?

The council is in Sydney’s outer western suburbs, at Penrith, and has just under a thousand staff serving a population of 172,000.

What’s your average week like?

It varies from week to week and depends on the time of year. Basically preparing reports, dealing with staffing issues, organising projects, negotiating and talking with suppliers, attending corporate meetings, council meetings (not every week thankfully), planning, and sometimes some thinking time.

If you could change one aspect of your job, what would it be?

Reduce number and duration of corporate meetings.

What is the Web strategy?

To make available services via the Internet that suits that mode of operation.

Does the council use open source software?

Yes, in the library.

How important do you believe the open source movement will be to the future of IT?

Probably the only viable competitor to Microsoft and the next two years will be important if it can build some critical mass with some key Pproducts such as an accepted default GUI and a viable Office Suite.

Do you believe IT has the respect of business executives that it deserves?

Yes and no — the importance is recognised but big question marks remain on the ability to consistently deliver product within budget.

Do you plan to undertake any additional training courses?

No, couldn’t find the time.

Where do you see yourself in five years time?

Same job, possibly more responsibilities.

What is the most embarrassing thing that has happened to you at work?

I forget, which is usually the cause of my embarrassing events.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

Listen to music, watch DVDs — preferably concert DVDs — work on my Web site.

What is the worst IT disaster you worry about?

Serious hacking and creeping database corruption.

What is your IT prediction for this year?

The security risks associated with Microsoft products will get worse.

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