The day in the IT shop of insurance company, Australian Unity, begins with a scrum.
It’s a meeting of pigs and chickens — strange aliases for IT and the business — that scrutinises projects, analysing the day that was and the day to come.
The 15 minute process, known as Scrum, has helped the company achieve efficiency in project management and software consolidation.
The company no longer wastes time shuffling emails and approvals between departments and the continual review process has eliminated the angst and anger caused by IT projects that have met the initial requirements but still fall short of satisfying the business need.
Chief information officer, Tahir Tanveer, said the Melbourne headquarters tech team meets daily to list achievements over the last 24 hours, plan the day ahead and check that projects are still in-line with what the business wants.
“It’s about high level requirements. We have a sprint each week where we show the business what we are doing and we test projects each week to make sure it is what the business wants,” Tanveer said.
“When I joined [in 2008] there was a big disconnect between business and development [and] we spent money on a project that we didn’t need to do. That’s when we started [Scrum].
“It helps IT to understand the business and helps process improvement… we have very strong technical governance across all groups and executive units.”
Australian Unity deals with healthcare, financial services and retirement living and serves 560,000 people across the country, including some 325,000 members. It has about 75 IT staff, employs more than 1300 people and has 20 aged care facilities in NSW and Victoria.
The business is also well underway into version two of the IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL) and has completed incident, problem, change and release management. It is now implementing configuration management and will later roll out the third release of the IT management platform.
Each project is broken down into sections of no more than three months, which Tanveer said allows the business to realise benefits faster than waiting for finale completion.
It also means the business can test and use feedback mechanisms to determine whether the project is meeting requirements. If not, the company saves the time, money and avoids the headache of rolling back projects.
Tanveer says the company has used the method to deliver several projects that have kept the business side happy, including a customer relationship management platform, Sword Ciboodle, which resulted in up to a 90 per cent improvement in success rates of customer contact by knowing who, when and how to call clients.
The IT shop has drawn a prescribed application purchase list, removed unnecessary software and is researching server consolidation and upgrading its 1100 Windows XP desktops to Windows 7.