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CIO50 2021 #19: Sue McLean, Greater Wellington Regional Council

  • Name Sue McLean
  • Title Chief Information Officer
  • Company Greater Wellington Regional Council
  • Commenced role December 2019
  • Reporting Line General Manager - Corporate Services
  • Member of the Executive Team No
  • Technology Function 52 staff
  • Greater Wellington Regional Council (GW) is a statutory body made up of 13 regional councillors, representing six constituencies. The functions of the council mainly centre on environment management, but also includes public transport and strategic and economic development of the Wellington Region. CIO Sue McLean says that GW creates plans (annual and long term) that set out the activities and services it intends to provide to meet the Wellington Region’s needs. Local government legislation requires councils to take account of the perspective of Māori on many matters.  

    Coolest little IT shop

    As part of the ICT Transformation, McLean says she created the ambitious vision to be the Coolest Little IT Shop in Local Government through three key goals – getting match fit, raising brand, and creating a customer centric culture.

    “We switched our mode of delivery from business-as-usual and Waterfall to a Scrum Agile delivery for all plannable work, resulting in transparent prioritisation across the business.  The people of ICT can now see the mahi they do and how it connects to the organisational goals. This is in no way innovative for New Zealand, but it was for GW. It was the first time Agile delivery was taken on in the organisation,” McLean says.

    The ICT team also worked on itself during transformation, and continues to do so, ensuring we are match-fit to deliver on the business value, which includes ensuring every person in ICT receives training and development planning. We made the focus about our people and created an amazing culture living through our values and encouraging open mindsets.”

    For the end-user community, McLean’s team created a multi-channel support desk solution which included a walk-up TechBar. Interactions at the TechBar became more personable and tailored to the needs of the end-user, as opposed to a model dependent on who you know in ICT to fix your issue. 

    “Again not ground breaking innovation, but a customer centric delivery that was focused on delivering value to the end user in a way that was meaningful for everyone involved in the transaction,” McLean says.

    Re-engaging with the hydrology team

    GW’s most critical services lie within the Hydrology field with a responsibility to protect people and property, especially in the event of significant environmental events. With a customer-focused Agile mindset, McLean says the newly formed ICT group re-engaged the Hydrology team and established a backlog of work, prioritised by the customer and agreed short delivery cadence through the newly introduced Scrum delivery framework to ensure fast feedback and the ability to safely experiment with innovative business solutions.

    Examples of such solutions range from ‘quick wins’ to more strategic pieces of work, which were tackled iteratively, including moving the Tier 1 flood modelling systems off unsupported operating systems and hardware to a resilient, scalable cloud solution, and a rearchitecting of the underlying database structure to enable more accurate publication of environmental data for internal use, partners and the public.

    “Feedback from our customers in Hydrology has been overwhelmingly positive and the dynamic of the relationship between ICT and the business unit has been lifted from virtually non-existent to honest, open and high-performing,” McLean says.

    One-page strategies

    McLean says her digital strategy sets the scene. It is only twenty pages, but succinctly lays out the approach for GW and its technology, cascading down from that is one pager strategies for each domain. 

    “If the message can’t be given on one page, it’s too complex to explain to our executive. We use these one pagers to share with our ICT team the goals of our group and how it connects to the organisational goals. It provides them a clear line of sight regarding purpose, from our Long Term Plan down to tasks and procedural level work, and back up again,” she says.

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