Cobham Aviation Services plans for outsourced IT

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Cobham Aviation Services plans for outsourced IT

Former BlueScope exec outlines new strategy.

Charter airline Cobham Aviation Services Australia is considering a new outsourced IT strategy as it moves to replace legacy systems across the 600-seat business.

Information services head Lynn Wood will this month propose a new five-year strategy for Cobham’s IT, including ageing applications, a custom finance system and two virtualised data centres.

Wood joined Cobham last September, after having spent seven years as information services manager of steel production giant BlueScope Steel.

“Our finance environment is pretty ancient … the general ledger application was built 20 years ago,” he told iTnews at the CIO Strategy Summit last week.

“Our engineering platform, which is probably one the key areas in our business – we primarily support our own fleet of aircraft – is a packaged solution some years old.

“Part of my responsibility is looking at how well those business applications support our business and how, in the future, we will be able to keep up with the growth strategy that the business has.”

Wood is responsible for 20 IT staff who manage an in-house primary data centre, co-located disaster recovery facility, and some 600 Windows 7 desktop computers in Australia.

He contrasted that with his 20-person team at BlueScope Steel, which supported more than 17,000 staff through partnerships with Capgemini, CSC and Bulletproof Networks.

“Management of the IT function, from my perspective, is about how we deliver services effectively from external vendors in the main,” Wood said.

“Most of what our business platform needs to be is very much commodity … I expect over time, we will transition most of our platform to hosted environments or even ultimately the cloud.

“Our business applications will be our focus in that they may be off-the-shelf packages but our relationship with our vendors and the way we manage the service and upkeep of those systems will be much stronger than it currently is.”

Five-year plan

Wood will introduce a five-year “transition plan” featuring a tangible roadmap for the first two years and broader strategic goals for subsequent years.

The plan would be reviewed annually, in accordance with Cobham’s usual planning cycle, he said.

As IT staff left the company through attrition, he planned to introduce a range of stronger business analysis, project management and vendor management capabilities.

“We’ll put up a budget each year and revisit the roadmap to try to firm it up,” Wood told iTnews, without disclosing Cobham’s IT budget or any vendors it would appoint.

“I think trying to plan further than two years out in an IT function is dreaming. Things change too quickly for us to have too firm a plan much further out than that.”

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