by CIO New Zealand

CIO100 2018 #31-100: Pete Yates, Healthlink

Mar 28, 2018
Big DataCloud ComputingCollaboration Software

Pete Yates has kicked off the HealthLink 2020 plan (IT Tech Strategy) by defining a set of goals and associated objectives.

The plan, he says, gives the organisation a view of what it will be like in three years, how it will function and the expected behaviours of all staff. The plan is designed to empower teams to make decisions (such as ‘test first, APIs second and building for cloud’).

“This will then allow HealthLink to build strong cultural foundations for our transformation,” says Yates.

“I have then built upon these goals and guiding principles to fully transform the organisation,” he says.

“The goal is to move from an on-premises, siloed (with some self-sufficient product teams) organisation with limited CI/CD (continuous integration/continuous delivery) capability, to a company with a multiple cloud/hybrid, fully fledged underlying platform (with full CI/CD, orchestration and automation) and self-sufficient product teams”, says Yates.

The plan was initiated by building new workloads in the cloud.

“I am trying to deliver existing services to a large customer base, whilst building new products and integrating new with old, as well as building a foundational platform, upskilling the team, hiring and retaining awesome talent and keeping the lights on,” he explains.

“The business itself is lacking some basic core capability such as HR, CRM and ITSM systems, so I have to wear both the CIO and CTO hats, but I love the challenge.”

Yates says the shift to the new environment was quite a change for HealthLink, which was a traditional software shop.

“There is a cultural and mind shift change required, especially for those who have not worked in a progressive software product company,” says Yates. “What I have done is show the teams what life will be like in the new world as per my 2020 plan.”

“I also made sure I understood the team’s pain points and addressed them as part of this plan, as well as setting out ways to empower teams to make decisions,” he adds. “I managed to arrange a training session for some of the technical teams, as well as give them a sandpit account to try out AWS.”

He believes the 2020 plan will allow the organisation to grow together and innovate.

For instance, recent innovations around the use of cloud and continuous integration “has cut deployments from hours to minutes.”

“Innovation at HealthLink has really been focused on design thinking and running regular sessions with our customers on how they use technology and what problems they are having, and how technology can solve them. Innovation does not necessarily need to be a technology choice.”

“It’s the first-time customers have been engaged…and they love it,” says Yates.

“It also gives HealthLink a unique view into customer thinking and problems they have, which we can then build into solutions that we know customers will love.”

“This has changed the way HealthLink – and its teams – look at products and solutions,” he notes. “We look at the customer problem and solve for it – we don’t provide a solution that then has to go and look for a problem.”

Prior to HealthLink, Yates has worked in IT executive roles across industries.

He was head PMO, operations, IT and platforms at Spark Ventures; technology services group manager and CIO at Foster Moore; IS infrastructure manager at Auckland Council; and global head of the customer operations centre for a managed services provider in the UK.

He finds taking this mindset when moving through each new role is useful:

“Setting a clear strategy with a vision, metrics (such as objectives and key results) and a plan to get to where you need to has been the best approach in getting teams (including leadership) on board.

“Setting a clear path gives teams (and other team leaders) a clear view of why they/you are doing something, how they know they have been successful and what needs to be done.

“Taking this approach also breaks up the work to be done so you can bite off small, manageable chunks rather than eat the ‘whole elephant’.”

Pete Yates at a CIO leaders’ luncheon in Auckland.