25 Q&As: Still smiling after ERP

As part of Computerworld's silver anniversary celebrations 25 IT managers recall the ups and downs of their careers. Here, Ian Jenkins, director of information technology, Central Queensland University, Rockhampton, Qld, shares his experiences with Rodney Gedda.

Q: Choose one key IT technology used at the university and describe how you want it to develop over the coming three to five years?

We have just implemented a large-scale video over IP project. Over the next few years this will let the university deliver a wide variety of course material to the students’ desktops if required. It will allow full participation in multi-user desktop videoconferencing.

Q: What has been the most challenging IT project of your career?

The implementation of the PeopleSoft ERP at the university. The IT division was involved in the selection and planning for the implementation of the ERP and a separate project team was created to carry out the development and implementation of the system. This involved a very large investment of university resources and funds over a number of years, essentially diverting what would normally be available to the IT division. The challenge was to continue support of the existing systems for the duration of the project with reduced funds and a significantly reduced IT staff.

End result: IT division was able to satisfy the needs of the end users for the period. The project was successfully completed and the ERP is now fully operational and run by the IT division.

Q: What has been the most significant breakthrough during your IT career?

That would be 1989 and getting the university to accept that the network should be ubiquitous throughout the organisation.

Q: What advice would you give to someone now entering IT?

Be flexible. By all means try to specialise in a field that you enjoy but don’t put all your eggs in one basket. The world of IT is constantly changing; you need to be able to adapt to changes when necessary.

Q: What was the first computer technology you used (and when)?

NCR 315, 1966, State Government Insurance Office (now Suncorp).

Fast facts: Employees: 1200. IT users: 19,000. IT budget: More than $2 million. Key applications: PeopleSoft, Finance, Student, Payroll, Library, Learning management systems. Key infrastructure — hardware: HP; networking: Cisco; operating systems: Unix Win 2000.