or LinkedIn here http://uk.linkedin.com/in/tonysmiththathousingitguy
This weeks’ C4 Dispatches http://www.channel4.com/programmes/dispatches/episode-guide was terrible viewing for me. Apart from confirming the shade of news about the whole Universal Credit system fiasco, (brown like milk chocolate, if you have lived under a rock for the last four years and was wondering). A national disgrace and horrific waste of money in these austere times and terrible to have such a detrimental effect on the lives of many trying to make the best of it.
Shown from the perspective of my backyard, Warrington and what the excuse for a solution is doing to ordinary people, claimants caught up in the system. Clearly, as this programme sadly shows, the system (IT and associated people processes) have been badly or not thought out from the start, badly managed, is incomplete for the needs of 'universally' applying benefits to all but the simplest cases, DWP staff not trained to adequate levels and catastrophically, its being tested live on real claimants. The classic "head in sand" good news view from the junior minister (not IDS obviously), put up as cannon fodder in the programme, also underlined the deep mess the project clearly is in. The DWP even has a publicity team knocking out bogus tweets, with the phrase 'Thanks To Universal Credit...', which has grown legs on Twitter, to further emphasis what a joke this project has become.
In a sector renowned for re-occurring IT runaway projects, wasting £100b's and also paradoxically one that churns out endless guidelines of how to manage projects and get it right, we are looking at a sad case here. The only silver lining is that in future IT degree courses, this forms a brilliant example of how not to approach projects, big or small. Using the UC credit system fiasco as inspiration, I have compiled some gotcha's when choosing systems here http://www.rodlaird.co.uk/default.asp?page=1517
So what can we learn from all of this?
I know that when working with my clients, I am never popular when I suggest we take several months defining our functional requirements and scope, before doing anything physical. Also, when having sometimes unpleasant conversations with staff & suppliers to ensure what is seen is what is achievable, to get all the awkward conversations out of the way before we get down to a realistic project plan.
Everyone who knows me, will know that I try to resist good news at the start of projects, I would rather have it at the end, when we bring stages in early, on-time, to budget or slightly lower. So I am not one for agreeing to deadlines pulled out of the air, I usually calculate them with suppliers based on what’s been specified and what needs to be achieved by them and the client. So trotting out good news and running away is not my style. I would be quite happy if they put something like that on my gravestone. "A Persistent Mancunian, who brought projects in on time as expected". I am not so sure IDS might have anything like that chipped on his.
To help organisations, particularly in the housing sector, manage better ICT and business projects, choose the right solutions for their organisations, I will be doing a course in mid-November. Read more about here http://www.rodlaird.co.uk/default.asp?page=1469 , you can sign up there too.
Related Post: Is DWP good news getting thin on the ground?
You can link with me on LinkedIn here - http://uk.linkedin.com/in/tonysmiththathousingitguy It would be great to connect !
The Fall - Fit And Working Again.
(c) Tony Smith, Acutance Consulting www.acutanceconsulting.co.uk 07854-655009
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