Australian building products giant Boral recently announced a $58.7 million Australian IT outsourcing program. Also contained within this release information was the news that Boral had also restructured and centralised numerous corporate support functions under a newly created Chief Administration Officer role filled by the former Chief Information Officer.
The corporate support units under control of the Chief Administration Officer were IT, human resources, safety, environment and procurement. This marks, as far as I can tell the first move in corporate Australia to create a dedicated Administration function incorporating these specific corporate functions.
Historically all literature and management thinking within these functional business areas (IT, HR, H&S etc) was to promote superior accountability, as well as an improved focus on business relevance and outcomes in order to raise the profile and significance of these disciplines in the boardroom. What we see from Boral is the opposite, essentially relegating the authority (by replacing the reporting supervisor from CEO to the CAO) of these functional units to a business support role.
It will be interesting to see if this board change and corporate governance initiative from Boral will be emulated by other businesses in Australia. What will be even more interesting is the reaction from various business disciplines and their governing bodies (AHRI, ACS, AAPCM) as well as the knock down effect on morale and career planning for functional leaders in these disciplines.
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