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Writer's Profile
John Christopher

Specialised Subjects

Computing, I.T., Information Systems

I am a Master’s graduate in IT from a UK University. I have good knowledge in different areas of IT such as programming, user design experience, project and data management, information systems, and networking. I am passionate about programming, databases and research and development. I have done both my Undergraduate and Postgraduate in IT. My recent achievements are Distinction in PG dissertation, Level 2 and Level 3 Fitness instructor certification from one of the leading fitness academies. I volunteer to help older people surf the internet at the University, being a part of a team to fundraise for certain events. During my spare time, I enjoy going to the gym, learning new software languages and updating information about the technology.

The role of the IT Director: Antonius Medical Centre

The report is written for Mr Andoni, CEO of the board of the Antonius Medical Centre. The purpose of the report is to discuss the role the Head of the IS Department should play in the organisation. Mr Frank Verhage has announced his retirement from Antonius Medical Centre. So Mr Andoni is particularly interested in how such a person would relate to the divisions of Antonius Medical Centre.

Antonius Medical Centre, IS Department.

1. Introduction
‘The success of every company depends ultimately on the calibre of its directors and the effectiveness of its board.’ (Bob, 2009). In the rapidly changing global marketplace, where companies have the freedom to choose how and where business gets done, the directors are under increasing pressure to help achieve profitable growth. Successful chief information officers earn their access to the executive suite by helping their companies compete. That means the CIO role must align IT with overall business goals, and obtain the best from their people, processes and information.

The Antonius Medical Centre is a hospital, where the role of Head of Information Services (IS) is crucial. The hospital faces many problems in the IS department, where the situation is no longer acceptable. Even though the hospital has a hospital-wide information system, it is distrusted by medical people. There are many shadow systems which are not integrated with hospital-wide system. The Antonius Medical Centre also has operational and staff problems. It provides poor information and there is a lack of documentation, lack of quality and inconsistent data. So, the board of directors decided to hire a new head for the IS department at the Antonius Medical Centre. In this report problems at the Antonius Medical Centre and the role of Head of IS will be discussed and also recommendations will be made for the IS department in the Antonius Medical Centre.

2. Objective
This report addresses the following issues:

  • summary of the IT/IS issues at Antonius Medical Centre
  • the role of the Head of IS (IT Director)
  • the relationship between the IT Director and the divisions
  • IS/IT issues the Antonius Medical Centre will need to address in the future
  • the capabilities required within the IS department to successfully manage these future issues
  • the skill set required for a candidate for the post of Head of IS (IT Director).

3. Summary of the IT/IS issues at the Antonius Medical Centre
The Antonius Medical Centre has problems in the IS and computing department. The Centre uses a hospital-wide information system, which is used to maintain patients’ and doctor’s records, financial information, transaction records and management information. The local information systems are personal initiatives of doctors to support clinical work. However, these shadow systems lack the capabilities to provide management information and hold inconsistent data about patients.

The most important IS problem in the hospital are three types of issues which are IS-related issues, Information Technology (IT)-related issues and Information Management (IM)-related issues. These issues must be addressed in order to deal with existing difficulties.

The issues related to IS are:

  • The hospital-wide information system is a “shadow system” due to lack of quality; it is not providing accurate patient records and financial reports, which is leading to mistakes.
  • A local system is also a “shadow system” due to lack of quality, lack of documentation and inconsistent data.
  • Local systems are information islands without bridges (integration) between local and organisation (hospital)-wide information systems.
  • The main task of the IT staff is to keep the old hospital-wide patient information system working. Because of this, there is a lack of IS support for medical staff.
  • With the current use of IS it is difficult to answer the simple questions about the number of patients, the cost of treatments or cost per patient.
  • There is no proper and focused information to the managers.
  • Directors become frustrated about the current hospital-wide system and need more management information for decision making.
  • There is difficulty in answering the government bodies and insurance companies, and therefore the agencies lost trust in the hospital information.

The issues related to IT are:

  • The IS staff spend most of the time maintaining the systems due to old software and hardware.
  • Due to the lack of capacity, the IS staff are not able to request new and improved applications.
  • Due to many incompatible software packages available in hospital, many doctors started using their own computer to support the medical work.

The issues related to IM are:

  • The IT staff have operational and technology focus related to their background and previous experience, because their main task is to maintain the IS.
  • IT staff have limited skill sets and need to become customer-oriented.
  • Poor relations between end-users and IT staff.
  • The lack of IS expertise in the divisions but the board is still expected to develop their own system.
  • The non-IS personnel/end-users act autonomously, so it takes time to educate the people in the divisions.
  • Management (board of directors) are not IS literate.
  • Management delegate IS strategy to the IS manager, so the IS manager feels overburdened.
  • Management has no clear business/IS vision.
  • Management expect the IS department to develop its own IS within the allocated fund (finance is tight) and within the hospital technical infrastructure.

The management, IT staff and medical staff are facing many issues with the IS department at the Antonius Medical Centre. Therefore the Centre should appoint a Head of IS or IT Director, because the IT Director plays a major role in the organisation.

4. The role of the Head of IS (IT Director)
The IT Director is a critical instrument of IT governance and plays a key role in the development of an organisation. The basic responsibility of the IT Director is to be an effective leader of the IT resources on which the business depends. The IT Director should clearly set the goals, objectives and make useful decisions that help the organisation. The IT Director should enable the IT department to provide strategic information to the management.

The main role of IT Director is to plan, manage and oversee the activities and operations of the IT department. Apart from these roles, the IT Director’s activities involve the governance the IT functions, operating the core infrastructure and related services, managing the firm’s process, recruiting and managing IT skills, expertise and staff, developing and retaining IT project management skills, managing the suppliers of IT services and products, and measuring and managing the company’s IT investment.

The IT Director:

  • is responsible for developing the IS/IT strategy in support of the company’s mission and core objectives
  • will direct, control and motivate the staff of the IT department
  • will develop an annual business plan and operating budget for the department and monitor the implementation of these to ensure that the financial targets are met
  • will negotiate service level agreements with both internal and external customers and service providers and monitor service delivery to ensure the agreed targets and standards are met
  • is accountable for the management, mentoring and career development of all IT staff
  • defines and seeks approval for the level of IT resources required to meet these goals and prioritises and schedules major projects
  • is responsible for researching and evaluating new technologies
  • will direct, attend and participate in staff meetings and related activities; attend workshops to keep up to date with IS/IT issues
  • will create a vision and provide the imperative to learning, create the learning culture and social architecture
  • exercises staff oversight to ensure new operations plans, policies, procedures, and transition/migration plans are consistent with the overall company goals and objectives
  • enforces standard company policies and procedures.

Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it” (Eisenhower, 2009). In fact the role of the IT Director is vital for the IT department in an organisation. Similarly, leadership quality is important for an IT director. There are four emerging leadership qualities for the role of IT Director’s activities. They are:

  • Business Leadership – connecting use of IT with business needs and strategy
  • Technology Leadership – shaping appropriate technology policies and procedures
  • Organisational Leadership – arranging an IT steering group and making them work
  • Functional Leadership – managing the function and its specialist groups.

5. The relationship between the IT Director and the divisions
The relationship between the IT Director and the divisions is the most important part in the organisation as this relationship could be useful in developing a user-friendly IS for the organisation which is more customer focused.

In the Antonius Medical Centre the relationship between the IT department and the medical staff is not good because the IT staff are not providing adequate IS support to doctors and other medical personnel and information is unreliable. Some doctors have started using their own system for medical purposes, but the hospital has incompatible software packages. Consequently, doctors become frustrated.

The relationship between the IT department and the hospital board is also not good because the hospital board expect the IT department to develop the hospital-wide system and the local systems within the limitation of the hospital’s technical infrastructure and the limited budget. Even some of the IS/IT staff say most of them are ‘freakware’ due the old system, lack of quality, lack of documentation and inconsistent data.

Simultaneously the board of directors are feeling unhappy about the current hospital-wide system because the management are not able to retrieve the required information. Another main problem with the hospital board is that they are not IS literate and don’t have any IS/IT members who can understand/discuss the IS/IT department problems.

6. IS/IT issues the Antonius Medical Centre will need to address in the future
The IS/IT issues in the Antonius Medical Centre is not a permanent problem and can be solved by taking proper measures in the future. The main IS/IT issues the Antonius Medical Centre needs to address in the future are:

  • understanding IT capability – understanding the functionality/capability of IT which is suitable for the organisation
  • business and IT vision – IT/IS function is to support the business
  • delivery of IS services – IS services are low cost and provide high quality results
  • designing IT architecture – structuring the IS/IT system which is suitable for the business.

The other IS/IT issues the Antonius Medical Centre needs to address in the future are:

  • they have issues in developing an information system strategy
  • restructuring the IT activities – connecting both local systems and hospital organisation-wide integrated systems
  • the local system has to be quality, providing proper documentation and data has to be reliable
  • the IT staff have to provide proper IS support to the doctors and other medical and non-medical staff
  • the centralised patient file system has to be reliable because they do not provide the doctors with sufficient information
  • proper management information has to be available for decision making
  • the old software and hardware has to be updated
  • management (board of directors) has to appoint an IT Director
  • the board of directors must ensure that IT Director should be qualified for the position and the relationship between the IT Director and divisions is good
  • management should have clear business/IS vision
  • management should provide adequate funds for the IS department.

7. The capabilities required within the IS department to manage the future issues
Although the Antonius Medical Centre has a lot of future issues to be addressed, the IS/IT department should have the capability to handle it. The necessary capabilities required for the IS/IT department to manage these issues are:

  1. IS/IT Leadership – the IT Director is responsible for creating the organisational plan, setting goals and vision, managing the IS/IT function and integrating IS/IT strategy with the business.
  2. Business systems thinking – to meet the challenge of business and IT vision. Its vision is to integrate the business development with IT capability.
  3. Relationship building – making the business involved in IS/IT issues. Bridging the relation between ‘user’ and ‘techies’ (business and IS department).
  4. Architecture planning – create the blueprint for a technical platform which responds to present and future business needs.
  5. Making technology work – rapidly fix and troubleshoot technical problems and make the business needs works.
  6. Informed buying – selecting the sourcing strategy to meet business needs and technology issues. Maintaining the tendering, contracting and service management processes. Responsible for IS delivery.
  7. Contract facilitation – ensuring the existing contracts for IS/IT services. It provides a single point of contact through which problems and conflicts are rectified smoothly within the framework of agreements and relationships.
  8. Contract monitoring – ensuring that the business position is protected all time. It involves holding suppliers against external benchmarks and standards.
  9. Vendor development – identifying the potential added value of IS/IT service suppliers. Identify the need for vendor development; add value to explore the long-term potential for suppliers. Create ‘win-win’ situations to increase suppliers by providing services which increase business benefits.

These are the necessary capabilities required to enable the IS/IT department to manage the Antonius Medical Centre in the future. Although the IS/IT department has the capabilities, the Head of IS (IT Director) requires key skills in order to deal with them.

8. Skill set required for a candidate for the post of Head of IS (IT Director)
The IS/IT department may have the capability to manage the future issues of the Antonius Medical Centre, but the IT Director will ensure whether this will be successful or not. So the skills of the IT Director play an important role in the Centre.
The IT Director’s skills include:

  • Business skills – the IT Director should understand the business to tackle the areas of IS/IT leadership, business systems thinking, relationship building, informed buying and vendor management capabilities.
  • Interpersonal skills – the IT Director should have interpersonal skills like empathy, respect and understanding to tackle the four areas of core IS capabilities – relationship building, contract facilitation, leadership and informed buying.
  • Technical skills – the IT Director should have technical skills to cover the two core capability areas – architecture planning and making technology work.
  • Motivating values – the IT Director should have motivating skills.

These are the core skills for the IT Director to deal with the core IS capability areas. Other skills required are:

  • a proven track record of driving and defining complex IT strategy
  • proven senior IT Management experience
  • exceptional communication skills are essential in order to explain complex IT concepts to non-technical colleagues
  • experience of managing multiple IT disciplines, i.e., software development, technical support, systems architecture etc.
  • having skills to manage their knowledge, share their experience, learn from experience
  • in-depth experience of negotiating with and managing third parties.

9. Recommendations
After long and thoughtful considerations of all the issues and peculiarities at the Antonius Medical Centre, it is recommended that an IT Director is appointed immediately. He or she should take the responsibility for developing and implementing a new IS strategy that meets the needs of managers, doctors, nurses and other stakeholders. The IT Director should create a new IT infrastructure plan which replaces all the old equipment. The IS/IT department has to change/restructure to become more customer focused. The board of directors should work closely with the IT Director and discuss the IS/IT-related issues.

10. Conclusion
In conclusion, it is recommended that the Antonius Medical Centre appoint a new IT Director to the IS/IT department to improve the current situation in the organisation.

11. Bibliography
Antonius Medical Centre. Case Study.

Boddy, D. Boonstra, A. and Kennedy G. (2005). Managing Information systems: An Organisational Perspective, Harlow: Financial Times/Prentice Hall. 2nd Edition

Bob, T. (2009) Appointment, qualification and purpose of directorships
Available from: http://www.gt.co.za/Publications/Effective-directors-guide/appointment.asp [Accessed on 10th August 2009]

Feeny, D. and Willcocks, L. (1997). The IT Function: Changing Capabilities and Skills, Managing IT as a Strategic Resource. UK: McGraw-Hill (Material distributed in the class).

http://www.cvscreen.co.uk/JobDescription/ITDirector.Html [Accessed on 13th August 2009]

http://www.mariosalexandrou.com/free-job-descriptions/it-director.asp [Accessed on 13th August 2009]

http://ezinearticles.com/?Top-25-Leadership-Quotations&id=4849 [Accessed on 13th August 2009]