by Hamish Barwick

Q&A: Programmed Group CIO, Mike Disbury

Nov 30, 20113 mins
IT ManagementProject Management

Mike Disbury has been chief information officer of Perth-based project services company, Programmed Group, for five years.

Hired to improve its disparate IT systems, Disbury recently implemented CommVault Simpana software to help consolidate 70 terabytes of data.

What does an average work day involve for you at Programmed Group?

I start at 7am and check what’s happening with the service desk as we have a team that starts at 4:30am to support the New Zealand operations.

Then, I catch up with key IT staff and senior management to talk about IT projects such as the Microsoft Dynamics NAV enterprise resource planning [ERP] implementation.

This is followed by meetings with vendors. I usually leave at 6pm but there’s a phone by my bedside and I’m on call so it is a long day.

What are some of the major challenges you face in the role of CIO?

Staff retention. The younger guys coming through on the service desk are a problem because even though we pay well, some of them don’t want to start at 6am. Being located in Perth, Western Australia, there is also the lure of the mining companies.

Budgets. I report to the chief financial officer, he’s trying to keep my spending down and I’m trying to increase it. In the last couple of years with the global financial crisis, it’s been hard but we’ve been able to undertake some projects recently such as a Microsoft volume licensing enterprise agreement roll out.

Maintaining control of a large distributed network. This is difficult as we have 3000 permanent staff and everyone wants to go down to the Apple store, buy a wireless router and suddenly they’re IT experts.

What are some of the major projects you have been working on?

We’re halfway through the Dynamics NAV implementation as the Group is made up of six separate companies including Property Services, Facility Management, Integrated Workforce, Total Marine, Construction and KLM Electrical.

I’m also undertaking a data centre consolidation as we currently have two facilities in Perth and Melbourne. Consolidating that down to one data centre in Perth will allow us to concentrate on putting emergency generators in place and a decent uninterruptable power supply.

Most of the Sharepoint 2010 and email servers we purchased as part of the Microsoft volume licensing enterprise agreement will be rolled out before 25 December, 2011.

What are the three biggest issues facing CIOs today?

Staying relevant is a huge thing because some staff members tell me they have put their own network together at home and know as much about IT as I do.

It’s about getting out there to staff, explaining what the IT department does and why it’s better to come through us than going off and doing your own thing.

Managing ‘Generation Y’ expectations is another issue because they expect to be able to use their own devices on the corporate network.

My main concerns with people bringing their own devices are security and data leakage. What is there to stop people taking away intellectual property if they connect to the network?

We’re looking at a data loss prevention program which will be rolled out in early 2012 to combat that problem.

What is your favourite gadget?

My iPad 2. It’s a great tool for video conferencing and I’ve been able to prompt the business to adopt them. We’re introducing 150 iPad 2 tablets for the sales team in December 2011.

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