In an age of austerity? Really?
If you live in the UK you can’t of helped but notice that of late the new Tory / Liberal Democrat coalition government have been cutting anything that stands still for long enough. We are in an age of austerity apparently. This has prompted all sorts of clever questions made under the Freedom of Information Act by journalists about government spending, and tech journalists are no exception.
The BBC’s leading technology correspondent is Rory Cellan-Jones – he’s generally a very smart fellow and obviously has a number of good connections. Today he made a blog post about the Business Link website costing £105,000,000 over a 3 year period.
Yes, £105 million pounds for a website.
Clearly there is righteous indignation all round, and outright amazement that a website can cost £105m. This then prompted a former civil servant who now runs his own consultancy, Simon Dixon, to comment on what he felt Rory had missed.
In short, Simon says it can cost £35m a year to run a website because: it can.
And scarily, he’s right. While I have no experience in the public sector I have seen the same thing happen in the private sector but usually only in large corporations.
I think the reason for it is a little different to that which Simon suggests (that it is because big consultancys get involved and the money is there). I think its because we get involved in my pet hate: I.T. for I.T.’s sake. This is when we, as IT professionals do things because we believe thats how they should be done, or because we want a new tech on our CV, or its the current “favourite”, forgetting the core purpose of what our client wants.
We should be about helping our clients (be they public or private sector) improve their output, or achieve their goals in the most cost effective way. One of the comments on Simon’s blog just about sums it up for me:
Factor in the endless box-ticking requirements generated by the ITIL and PRINCE2 job-creation methodologies…
Clearly I dont think any sane person would argue against having “best practices” and “methodologies” which allow us to get our jobs done in the most effective way. But do the likes of ITIL and PRINCE2 really do that? In my experience the problem with them is that they are too generic and allow themselves to be bent by persons various to suit whatever aim they currently have… do they result in better IT projects? Yes, mainly. But do they result in our clients producing widgets more efficiently, or getting information out better? Only as a bi-product.
A place for everything and everything in its place.