Today, the picture is very different. Socitm policy advocates ‘smart sourcing’ as critical for successful ICT delivery – more aligned with common sense than past Whitehall policies. This is particularly important today, with cloud models offering more flexibility in scale and cost than traditional ICT outsourcing.
Having lots of features is one thing, winning adoption is another. Microsoft lacked a unifying piece that would integrate these various elements into a form that users could easily embrace. Teams is that piece. Introduced in March 2017, I initially thought there was nothing much to it: just a new user interface for existing features like SharePoint sites and Office 365/Exchange groups, with yet another business messaging service alongside Skype for Business and Yammer.
But the real answer to the question depends on how IT is defined. If narrow definition is used and IT is taken to mean nothing more than base infrastructure, then Carr’s viewpoint remains correct. If, however, the definition of IT encompasses the entirety of an organization’s technology portfolio and strategy, however, the assertion that IT doesn’t matter could not be less accurate today.
They’re part of “working in the open”, sure. Showing what you’re doing, and that you haven’t (yet?) replaced everyone by robots. But corporate blogs that are consistently a good read, and not done by a tiny start up, are not “open”. At least not in the way we normally think of “openness”, as a synonym for unmediated.
Writing great APIs demands we use a range of techniques to improve the way we write code. Pair programming, test-driven development and coding in the open are all important attributes of writing great code and therefore making our APIs reusable outside Hackney.
There should be a situation where outsourcing in the public sector can be managed appropriately and used to complement in-house service delivery and policy-making.
The problem is that such a balance demands in-house skills – and we outsourced all of them!
The Anchorage payroll project, now in its seventh year and with costs ballooning from a projected $10 million to over $80 million provides a solid example of how to guarantee an enterprise project failure.
We need to prepare for a world where people might not access GOV.UK through their computer or smartphone, but could be using Alexa, Google Assistant or some technology that hasn’t even been created yet. We need to make GOV.UK understandable by humans and machines.
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Most of the stories about what organisations are doing on digital transformation tend to get published in the form of case studies, and most of those case studies are written and published by vendors of either technology products or services.
That’s fine, but I do tend to get slightly grumpy with them as they focus so much on the purchase of the technology and what it might deliver in terms of better and cheaper services. “Council X to save £300m by investing in the Norpita customer experience platform” – that sort of thing.
Partly the issue is the jumping ahead nature – none of those savings have been realised yet, no software implemented, no services redesigned. All that’s happened is that a purchase order has been approved.
But mostly, it’s because it leaves the impression that the technology is the panacea, that buying the tools delivers the outcomes. Also that this is a quick process, which it isn’t.
First, implementing new systems is hard and takes much longer than anybody cares to admit. Second, the real benefits can only come when radically redesigning the way a service runs, and that takes even longer – particularly as you’ll likely need several stabs at it. Thirdly, those much trumpeted savings? Don’t forget where they are coming from, which is mostly what the organisation spends on people. That means restructures, which will mean more time, and more pain.
This isn’t a reason not to do this stuff – of course not! But sometimes it’s easy to get stuck into the mindset that if we just buy this thing, everything will be ok. You might need to buy that thing to ensure everything’s ok, but you’ll also have a do a load of other stuff, which the case studies never seem to mention.
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Doing things better is hard because it presupposes you know what you are doing and why you are doing it. You have to understand and be clear on your goals and your vision, and the outcomes you want your projects, programmes and organisation to meet. And you have to have the trust and explicit support of everyone around you.