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CIO says Telstra becoming 'best IT shop in APAC'

Agile methodologies and 'fail wall' changing culture

Telstra’s CIO has boldly claimed that the carrier’s ongoing Agile IT transformation will soon be one of the most successful stories of enterprise Agile at scale in the world.

Speaking at the Agile Australia 2012 conference in Melbourne, Telstra CIO Patrick Eltridge said that his team was also “busy building the best IT shop in Asia Pacific.” Since being appointed to the CIO hot seat 18 months ago, Eltridge has been actively dedicated to turning Telstra’s IT systems into a fertile Agile hub.

Last year Eltridge went on an intense recruitment drive for Agile coaches as part of a large-scale change management program. The Agile approach serves to accelerate collaboration on projects between IT and the business units, improving speed to market and delivering value all the way through a project lifespan.

Telstra took on the Agile methodology for its IT and software development as part of the consultation process over its $11.9 billion transformation. Eltridge said that Telstra was going Agile out of competitive market necessity. “Because we the need the capabilities of an agile organisation. With the advent of NBN and the rapid change that we are seeing in consumer technology we have no hope of thriving in the 21st unless we become much more adaptable and are able to respond faster than our competitors to meeting customer demands.”

Eltridge views Agile as not just a software developer methodology but a “way of working that drives a more productive and enjoyable experience.” While admitting that the change process has been long, he said that it is currently in acceleration mode. “The ox is slow but the earth is patient ... changing culture is a gradual process and can seem glacial to those in it.”

As part of the Agile deployment, Eltridge said that Telstra staff were continually being trained in Agile fundamentals and has implemented a feedback system that allows for accountability and transparency between the team and its leaders. The IT group has established a fail wall where team members can publicly ‘out‘ their failures and share what they have learnt from them. ®

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