STARS Air Ambulance: An Information Systems Challenge
* Identify three or four of the most critical challenges facing the new CIO and make recommendations for how Khan can tackle each of these challenges. * What should Kahn’s objectives be for his upcoming meeting with the CEO and how can he prepare to best meet them? * What should Kahn do about departments contacting their “favorite IS staff member” when they need technical assistance? How can he change this practice and still gain the trust and support of the CEO and other senior managers?
Importance of IS to STARS
The do-it-yourself approach that prevails in this organization regarding information systems may be the result of a fundamental lack of understanding by some managers of the importance of information systems to STARS. Although STARS appears to have maintained the highest standards in recruiting highly trained professionals for its team, these same high standards have not been the case previously with regard to information systems. As the case indicates, the previous CIO was not a member of the permanent staff but a consultant whose time was focused on his own narrow assignments. Department managers with education and professional experience in other disciplines were expected to deal with systems problems on their own. Senior executives do not seem to have had any clear vision as to the importance of IS and the commensurate need for professional leadership. The hiring of Sharaz Khan suggests that senior management finally recognized the problem and have resolved to correct it. To persuade the senior management of the need for greater control over IS activities, the CIO needs to fully understand the importance of the IS role himself and be able to communicate its significance to both the CEO and the executive committee. The CIO has already had limited discussion with a few of the managers. One argument raised was that even if a lengthy information system outage occurs, information systems are not truly critically important because helicopters and medical aircrews can still fly to accident sites and rely on cell phones for communication purposes. That is, STARS basic operations will still function even in the absence of information systems support. If this impression is widespread, Khan may need to counter it with the argument that the success of STARS missions is measured in human lives and not simply by the timely dispatch of a helicopter and medical crew. Much of the critical information regarding accident victims, site conditions, availability of the chain of survival partners and even factors related to aircraft safety cannot be successfully communicated by cell phone; such information, in turn, can directly affect the survival rate of patients and the safety of the aircrews. In fact, the Emergency Link Centre, which is heavily reliant on computing technology, was created because verbal communication was inadequate. The CIO needs to develop an intimate understanding of the particular aspects of STARS operations that would either experience diminished performance or be disabled as a result of a systems outage and to ensure the CEO and the executive Committee are aware of the possible repercussions. Khan also needs to look to the future. Given the lack of focus on IS that has occurred in the past, numerous IS-dependent opportunities for improving the organization’s capabilities have likely never been thought of previously, simply because no one in the organization ever seriously considered the potential of IS to support the STARS mission.
Challenges n solution
• Educating the other managers and the rest of the STARS staff regarding the role and importance of IT to the STARS mission • Developing and “selling” a compelling vision for IS/IT within STARS • Gaining the trust and co-operation of the STARS management team • Addressing the “distributed” nature of IT activities, resources and governance • Identifying and...
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