blog As first reported by iTNews (but we’ve also been hearing it from the grapevine since last week), Brisbane City Council chief information officer Nicholas Brant is to leave the organisation, right as Brisbane, the largest council organisation in Australia is in the middle of several major technology initiatives, including offshoring a substantial number of IT roles, shifting some work into the cloud and spending $353 million on a comprehensive, SAP-based businesses administration system. The council has also been engaged in a wider outsourcing process for major bundles of IT services. The job ad for the CIO role is up and states:
Brisbane City Council is Australia’s largest local government with assets of $22 billion and an annual budget of $3.1 billion. As a dynamic, outcome focused organisation operating in one of the fastest growing economies in Australia, Council is dedicated to building a better, prosperous, sustainable Brisbane.
Council is seeking to appoint a Chief Information Officer of exceptional calibre and experience. Reporting to the Divisional Manager, Organisational Services you will be responsible for developing, implementation and refining an overall strategy for Information Technology, while working collaboratively with stakeholders to deliver key initiatives.
The role of Chief Information Officer is complex and diverse, requiring high level leadership, influencing and business management skills. Driving a high performing culture of collaboration and participation; you will lead the day to day operations of the information and communication technology (ICT) services through the development of strategic directions, decision making and governance.
According to Brant’s LinkedIn page, he had been with the council as its CIO for almost four years, after having held a variety of other senior IT roles at other organisations such as Virgin Blue airlines, where the executive was general manager of IT. We’re sure an executive as experienced and qualified as Brant is will land on his feet.
To be honest, although I have no specific inside information on the situation, Brisbane City Council is my prime candidate Australia-wide right now for an organisation which is headed for a massive IT disaster. The Council is simultaneously handing out major bundles of IT outsourcing services, offshoring IT staff, conducting innovative projects involving cloud computing and rolling out one of Australia’s largest enterprise systems consolidations. I have been predicting for a while that things will go off the rails. As I wrote in June, 2012, with respect to the SAP project:
“In my opinion, this implementation which Brisbane City Council has announced is a recipe for disaster. Any time you try to shut down dozens of legacy systems and migrate the whole shebang onto one huge centralised platform, you’re going to suffer a huge number of roadblocks. While no doubt Accenture, SAP and the council itself are being very careful here, especially because of the disastrous implementation at Queensland Health, I think anyone who expects this implementation to proceed smoothly has not been following recent IT projects within Australia’s public sector.
It is a universal truth now that Australia’s sub-Federal public sector is broadly incapable of successfully delivering on major IT projects; we’ve seen this trend right around Australia recently, from Queensland to NSW, to Victoria and Western Australia, and I do not expect this rollout to be any different. If this deployment is successful, it will be very much an outlier.”
And in February this year, with respect to the offshoring:
“Frankly, we’re a little surprised with the council’s plans, considering it’s right in the middle of a huge $353 million overhaul of its business administration platform. We would have thought good governance would have suggested that it might not be the best time to offshore IT jobs when you’re in the middle of a huge IT systems overhaul. But what do we know? After all, Queensland government departments have shown how capable they are of pulling off major IT projects in the past, especially those involving SAP. Well, not really. Oh, well. Let’s just hope and pray on this one, shall we?”
Everything is lining up right now to go wrong for Brisbane City Council when it comes to technology … and to make matters worse, it’s Brisbane City Council, as in, Brisbane, Queensland. As in, the state that has demonstrated itself to be completely and utterly incompetent when it comes to running its own government IT systems. Could the CIO leaving right in the middle of all of this massive change possibly be a signal that things aren’t going well? We’re not sure. It will be interesting to find out. We’ll be watching the council closely over the next year or so.