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Champions all on top CIO list

Champions all on top CIO list

Meet the finalists in the 2007 Computerworld's 'CIO of the Year' award.

With a name like Champion, the CIO of the West Coast District Health Board could well be the favourite to win Computerworld’s CIO of the Year Award. Wayne Champion is a finalist in the Sun Microsystems-sponsored category, along with Andrew Diver, manager of systems development at Vero Insurance and Russell Turner, the MetService’s CIO.

Champion works in Greymouth for what is one of New Zealand’s smaller health boards. He is also the CFO there and general manager of facilities and support services for the DHB, which covers the whole of the lightly populated West Coast. It nevertheless, stretches a good distance — it’s similar to the distance between Auckland and Wellington. And he also occasionally acts as CEO, too.

Champion has spearheaded a number of projects, which have typically focused on integrating electronic health records across the board’s 16 sites. For example, the PrISM (Primary Integration Systems Management) project created a WAN and shared a patient administration system across all the DHB centres.

Then there is the PACS (Picture and Archiving System), which allows radiology images to be shared with other clinicians, including those at other health boards. This ensures consistency of treatment and also avoids the loss of X-ray films. Lastly, there is the iSOFT PAS/CIS (Patient Administration and Clinical Information System), which focuses on reporting and data quality.

Champion says he juggles his roles by having good teams and communicating well with them. The roles also make him a driver of the board’s overall corporate strategy.

“I have taken the CIO role really seriously. Instead of seeing IT as a way to cut costs, I see it as a way to improve health gains,” he says.

West Coast District Health Board CEO Kevin Hague says Champion’s various roles give him an extraordinary breadth and a well-rounded understanding of the health business and of how IT can help support its needs.

He says Champion deserves credit for being both the architect and driver of projects that have helped make the DHB an IT leader in New Zealand, something which is essential in a large, rural area, where people need local facilities and technology is often the only way to deliver them.

“Wayne’s vision has been able to flourish,” Hague adds.

Auckland-based Andrew Diver is manager of systems development process management and programme management for Vero Insurance. He heads VTech, the company’s 40-strong projects department.

“As the orchestrator of all initiatives, from inception to implementation, including those with no technology component, VTech’s role spans a number of the nine processes in Vero’s strategic planning framework. The CIO plays a key role in the overall governance of this framework, to ensure consistent and methodical alignment of its various components,” Diver writes in his submission.

Diver says his philosophy is that IT exists to enable process — he is a champion of the management-by-measurement approach and of flexible working practices.

Projects have focused around delivering a service-orientated architecture for Vero, to increase the lifespan of its core systems.

Andrew Aitken, Vero’s general manager of general insurance operations, says Diver brings strong leadership and a broad understanding of strategy and process. He follows the Malcolm Baldrige criteria for quality management, which is a methodology based on business improvement and measurement aimed at ensuring world-class standards.

Aitken says Diver has been key to driving SOA projects and leads Vero’s analysis, technical development and project management offices, and “works broadly across the business”.

Paul Linton, chief of Metra, the International Division of MetService, lavishes praise on his CIO finalist, Russell Turner.

Wellington-based Turner might not make the weather forecast more accurate, but he is central in making its delivery more reliable, through his involvement in a range of business-continuity and disaster-recovery projects, including building a new state-of-the-art datacentre. Other projects include implementing VoIP.

Linton credits Turner with bringing structure to company systems and improving the security and efficiency of services. He notes that half of the UK’s power generators rely on weather forecasts supplied by MetService.

“Russell’s a very good people manager, has a common-sense approach and a good strategic mind,” he adds.

In his submission, Turner stresses the importance of communicating with his team and others within the company; this includes using surveys to ensure the success of a project.

Turner says he treats the CIO role as being secondary to his primary executive management role, which sees him responsible for setting and implementing business strategy and increasing shareholder value.

An IT department must also be “visible in summary and in detail”, to ensure the organisation understands and accepts the value of what it does, which means more than just the CIO doing the talking, he says.

“A catchphrase I use with our team is ‘Service without Servility’. This [speaks of]… a respectful relationship between the business unit as the consumer and IT as the provider, but is also [about IT being]… a thought-leader, influencing the business,” writes Turner.

And, noting he might not be in his present role forever, he advises organisations to have “heel-nippers”.

“Have people who want your job and… could realistically, eventually, do it. Complacency results in stagnation,” says Turner.

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