Contractor management takes Novell approach

Contractor management takes Novell approach

Novell's new Asia-Pacific CIO Sam Gennaoui says contractors have to be brought to book - on the payroll.

For a man charged with delivering IT services to one of the worlds biggest networking and ID management software vendors, Novell's Asia-Pacific CIO is disarmingly frank about the problems he's had.

Tasked to roll out a fully integrated identity management system [IDM] as part of a global corporate initiative, Gennaoui was told Novell's Sydney headquarters also had to be a functional showroom for new and existing clients - with an encrypted wireless LAN for staff, contractors and clients (housed exterior to firewalls) that provisions users on the fly.

"We had the contractors in a separate database [without] a single view of all of our employees. Duplicate [identities] caused problems in multiple systems. We had issues with people logging-in, passwords and the provision of services and applications," Gennaoui says.

Such problems created risk and cost in the organisation, which required careful management to prevent cost blowouts and scope creep. Gennaoui says part of the solution is in picking the right contractors.

"Don't just look for people with technical skills. Contractors [must] have communication and people skills, especially on site. It's very important [they] understand their role, the scope of a project and the expectations of the deliverables. It's essential for morale to ensure contractors buy into [a project] rather than doing nine-to-five," Gennaoui says.

Gennaoui also says that project managers need flexibility and an eye for the big picture, even if it means extending project lifespan and costs to ensure ultimate success.

"There will always be issues around scope creep and delays. It's how quickly you identify and reduce it, thereby minimising risk to the organisation. We plainly didn't allow enough time to consult with the business [on IDM] for it to agree and define the business rules. It's not something that you can do in 10 minutes, so we felt it appropriate to extend the life of the project to have the right framework in place. Without it, we would have had a fairly messy implementation," Gennaoui says.

The result of the IDM rollout is that user identity now boots directly from the payroll system, sending user identity and access rules into applications and systems. Provisioning times have been reduced from days to minutes, with visiting staff using the same ID everywhere, even on wireless laptops. Outside the office, users synchronise and update systems on the fly through dial-ups and VPNs.

After the confessional, Gennaoui says the real success will be Novell customers getting pragmatic project management acumen in addition to product.

"Change management is extremely important. Systems [changes are] not the only change that business experiences. They have to wrestle with so many other changes, and unless you manage the process correctly, at the same time, [a project] will fail. Projects are not driven by IT, they're driven users." he said.

Novell in-house IDM at a glance

  • Single sign-on for 6000 employees worldwide, 350 in AsiaPac excluding India and Japan
  • 10 to 15 per cent contractors to permanent staff
  • PeopleSoft for HR and payroll
  • Novell e-Directory for IDM
  • Oracle Financials for finance
  • Siebel for CRM, with modules for forecasting, pipeline and support
  • Win2000, HP UX, Linux, Novell NetWare operating systems to emulate customers environments.
  • Desktops on Windows XP and 2000

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