About the Author

Ken Cole
SPS Consultancy

Ken Cole has worked in senior positions in both the public and private sectors and was one of the founding Directors of SPS in 2001. He recently completed a three year secondment as Director of the London Centre of Excellence. Ken has thrilled many public and private audiences with his incisive analysis, robust delivery and his belief in 'telling it as it is'. His blog is a regular commentary of the improvement and efficiency agenda.

Make sure you pay a frequent visit to find out Ken's latest thoughts on the workings of government, the latest policy initiatives and much more...

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Will the Public Sector ever learn?

Dec 31, 2010

 

Let’s get our priorities right. It is New Year’s Eve and I will soon be logging off until 4thJanuary. So, Happy New Year to all sensible readers except those Russian based saddos who like posting their inane graffiti in the comments section.

2011 promises to be a challenging year for us all not only because of the financial cutbacks that will really hit post April 2011, but also because the Coalition lacks experience on what it needs to preserve and what could be axed. Just because the last Government introduced something does not immediately make it wasteful. Indeed, some of their decisions are going to cost them dearly financially. But hey ho they’re politicians at the end of the day!

News reaches me that the much heralded South West One project in deepest Somerset is not doing too well. In fact, according to insiders, it is an unmitigated catastrophe and damage limitation is now the name of the game. It is easy to blame poor old IBM, but they are really the victims – although I bet they have not lost money on this deal. My question is who wrote the business case suggesting that the concept would work in the first place? Having worked with three Somerset local authorities, I can say categorically that the business case for procurement savings of over £150M in ten years was no more than wishful thinking.

But can it be true that South West One has invested £30M in a SAP shared services system (see ComputerWorld UK report), which, as is par for the course, delivered late and didn’t work (ED - he means it had teething troubles). A SAP system is a complete overkill for any local authority. Having worked in the ICT industry, I can say that a system provided by Unit 4 or Advanced Business Solutions would have not only been delivered on time but cost a small fraction of that £30M.

2011 lessons

  • Know what you are doing before you outsource or enter some long term arrangement with a private sector provider
  • Base your business case on known facts and use niche companies that know what they are doing rather than ‘named’ companies who charge heavily for business cases more akin to children’s’ fairy tales!

Comments...

@JimmyGov - I worked on the South West One project!! Catastrophe is a mild way of putting git!
Anon
02/02/2011 17:36

Nice choice of words there Ken, South West One project is indeed a 'catastrophe'. And I agree that IBM won't lose out on this one either.
JimmyGov
13/01/2011 12:47

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