The State IT Agency (SITA) may be about to lay to rest cynicism about its turnaround and the annual GovTech talk-fest, with promising indications that the time for talking may finally be at an end, with the time for action at hand.
When SITA promised to effect a turnaround at last year’s GovTech, there was understandable scepticism about whether this time around it was going to deliver.
Recently-appointed CEO Blake Mosely-Letafola is confident that it’s going to happen. “We have no option but to make it work,” he tells IT-Online.
“SITA has got a very clear mandate to perform and can’t keep perpetuating the under-performance that has been associated with the organisation for a period of time.”
The almost completely-new management team is young and committed to making the turnaround work, he says.
“We also have a re-constituted board and new leadership including an executive management team that is keen to ensure that SITA succeeds,” he says. “The team that is in place now doesn’t want to be associated with failure.”
And this time around SITA is not just talking about fixing the problem, Mosely-Letafola says, but has put a number of elements in place to ensure the turnaround succeeds.
One of the most visible changes the agency has made is in the appointment of Mosely-Letafola himself.
With a background in industrial sociology, Mosely-Letafola has worked most of his career in the social sciences environment. His appointment to SITA, rather than a technologist, is expected to bring needed leadership skills to the management team. “I don’t have an IT background,” he says. “But you don’t really need field skills at the helm of the organisation.”
With a three-year contract, it is hoped the Mosely-Letafola will also bring much-needed stability to the organisation. He has been on board since January 2011.
One of his most pressing tasks is to regain trust in the agency from customers that may have been disillusioned or let down in the past,
“Restoring trust is a major challenge,” he says. “What we are doing is the executive management team is working aggressively on a stakeholder relationship management strategy. We have been visiting the provinces, introducing ourselves, talking about the work we have been doing and how we are repositioning ourselves.
“We are also listening to their concerns. It’s important to hear about the concerns of our customers, especially provincial governments. Because only then can we institute mechanisms and processes to address these concerns.”
Mosely-Letafola is serious about turning SITA into a customer-centric organisation – something that should be a standard operating principle of the agency.
“We are a service organisation after all,” he says. “We need to care about how we deliver services and value-adds – that’s the culture we want to build within the organisation.
“If we can change the behaviour associated with under-performance and a don’t-care attitude, and reposition to wanting to ensure the customer is happy and can expect better services delivery, then we will be on track.”
Partnering with the IT industry is also going to be important for SITA to be able to deliver on its promises, says Mosely-Letafola.
“I will be the first to admit that we haven’t talked enough to the industry,” he says. “We need to be talking about collaborating a lot more than we have in the past.
“I have my own plans for how we should interact with the industry – it’s just a matter now of putting those plans in place.
“What we need is a win-win situation that is mutually beneficial for SITA and the industry.”
Mosely-Letafola has already held engagement sessions with industry players in March and June, with more meetings planned for November.