STARS Air Ambulance: An Information Systems Challenge Case Study

Arif Harbott
Arif Harbott

One of my Information Management lectures looked at analysing the STARS Air Ambulance case study from HBR which looked at the recently appointed chief information officer Sharaz Khan and his first few weeks in the role.

The IM function of the company was not aligned with the rest of the company, there were lots of distributed projects underway, no governance and no real link to the board or other business leaders. The objective of the case study was to advise Sharaz on what he should do moving forward. During a very quick brainstorm we came up with the following suggestions:

  • Make sure that IT aligns with business strategy by setting up a governance board to oversee the IT spending and approve IT projects
  • All IT projects need to have a sponsor, business case and clear project gates
  • IT needs a voice in the senior management team
  • Reduce the number of contractors working on routine projects
  • Address the business continuity procedure for STARS as downtime could result in loss of lives
  • Reduce the reliance on custom development and instead look to utilise off-the-shelf solutions
  • Build relationships within the organisation and create a dialogue between IT and the rest of the business

One bright person in my class actually decided to contact Sharaz and ask him what he actually did in reality and he was kind enough to respond with the following bullet points:

  1. Established a technology council and invited anyone in moving the technology agenda of stars forward
  2. Identified major initiatives from each pillar
  3. Got rid of all contractors because for what they were getting paid and the results i was getting, it was not worth it
  4. Created a 30-60-90 day plan for the executive team
  5. Created a long term strategy document
  6. Focused on standardization, off-the shelf software and made sure all technology procurement for the organization came under me so I could see what was happening, so i could streamline the buying chain process
  7. Lastly, because i started reporting to the ceo instead of the cfo (which is the traditional path), this made a large difference in pushing my change agent agenda forward.

So it was very interesting to see what we recommended and then what happened in reality!

STARS Air Ambulance: An Information Systems Challenge Case Study

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