5 minutes with... Glenn Vallen, manager IS, City of Salisbury, SA

Q: How did you get into IT?

I graduated from university with a degree in Maths and Computing Science and while I was waiting for the perfect job as a mathematician, I took a job as a programmer with the Public Service. It didn’t take me long to realise that the ‘real world’ was where I wanted to be!

Q: What does your current position involve?

I am responsible for all information technology and telecommunications used by the council. My team is split into three — business analysts who work with the users on new project work, application support to keep our business systems running, and network support to look after the network and run the internal helpdesk. We don’t write software, so our development work involves acquisition of appropriate applications and trying to make sure our ‘best of breed’ applications integrate as well as they can.

Q: What are your current projects and issues?

We are in the process of implementing an electronic documentation management system. This is probably one of the largest projects we have undertaken since it will ultimately have a big impact on virtually everyone in the organisation. It’s one of those projects where the cultural aspects are much harder than the technical stuff. One of the biggest challenges facing us continues to be the integration of our major systems. Other issues include data integrity, and the provision of satisfactory performance at our remote sites given bandwidth limitations.

Q: What are your greatest IT challenges?

Local government is one of the most diverse kinds of organisation you can find. It can be difficult to resolve apparent conflicts between one part of the organisation and another. One size doesn’t fit all, and yet you still have to provide a consistent corporate environment. When you add in the different rates of change that different people can cope with, it makes for interesting times. Some people will be screaming for MORE! NOW!, while others might be struggling to keep up.

Q: How many IT professionals in your team?

We have four business analysts, two application support officers, three network support officers, a trainee, with me trying to keep track of it all!

Q: What is the report structure at the council?

I report to the director corporate development. Corporate development covers IT, human resources, corporate communications and our customer service unit. We have a fairly flat structure within IT. Two of the network support officers and the trainee report to a senior network analyst, everyone else reports directly to me. Our records management section also reports to me.

Q: What is the most pressing issue you face?

Given limited resources, the biggest issue is being able to respond to the needs of our users in a satisfactory timescale.

Q: What is your annual IT budget?

$1.5 million

Q: How big is your organisation?

The City of Salisbury, one of the largest suburban councils in South Australia, is 25km north of Adelaide. We have about 250 users with about 150 in the main council office.

Q: What is the most difficult IT decision you have had to make?

Any decisions that affect people’s lives and careers are always the hardest.

Q: What is your Web strategy?

We have recently put in a new content-management system to make it quicker and easier to keep our Web site up to date. Current emphasis is on extending our site to provide business services integrated to our corporate systems. The first application has just gone live with more to come.

Q: What is your IT prediction for this year?

IT will become even more pervasive (intrusive?) in everyday life. There will be more Internet-connected machines in people’s homes, many with broadband access. People will start to rely on the convenience of ‘always on’.

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