back to article Ex-Logica boss to teach UK.gov how to identify crap IT

The government has turned to the former boss of Logica to try and it teach it how to run IT projects and jettison them as quickly as possible when it becomes apparent they have got it wrong again. Martin Read, who was forced out of Logica last year, will carry out a review of the government’s £13bn annual IT spend as part of a …

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Stop

Non sequitur

I'm not commenting on whether this guy's any good, or not but

"Logica pulled in its fair share of work" doesn't mean that "He will be good at spotting shit"

This is like saying that just because you've been ran over by a car, makes you the best person to improve car design.

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Boffin

It's crap if...

it's anything with a *gov.uk* domain. Or ANYTHING to do with the government.

Lesson over.

Can I have my (hugely extortionate,(probably)) fee now please.

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Alien

Dear Prudence, ....re FutureBuilders FCUK

"Whether the government will actually do the unthinkable is quite another matter. " They don't need to if they have a Stealthy Astute Proxy, Fed and Watered and Fully Provisioned ...... with Obscene Immaculate Liquidity.

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Jobs Horns

Lunatics have taken over the asylum

Logica is one of the companies who consistently fail to deliver government projects and now one of their rejects is in charge of a review! The lunatics have indeed taken over the asylum.

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Anonymous Coward

Hoorah Government IT is saved.....

What makes the Treasury think he knows anything about running IT projects, managing costs yes, but IT.....

Look forward to more expensive IT projects that cost more, take longer and deliver less, but are on time and on budget.

The usual government IT project is:

Year 1 - Assess need, put in budget proposal

Year 2 - Get the budget, hire consultants to confirm budget and firm up requirements

Year 3 - Put contract out to tender

Year 4 - Let contract based on 2 year old requirements.

Year 5 - legislation changes mean large change control costs and delays.

Year 6 - project delivers late over budget and does not meet the business requirements which have changed again.

It's carried out by:

Year 1 - A small group of civil servants and a tier 1 business consultant.

Year 2 - A small group of civil servants, a tier 1 business consultant and a bunch of inexperianced graduates sold in at exorbitant rates by the tier 1 consultancy because the rates paid by the government won't allow for anything else if they want to make a profit.

Year 3 - As above, plus a group of suppliers giving free consultancy, too late.

Year 4 - As above, plus the winner of the bidding process who's on a profit recovery plan because they under bid to win the business. (tier 1's consultants should drop by 90% though)

Year 5 - Change request, yahoo we can make a profit because we're the only game in town, but the new legislation is not compatible with the solution.

Year 6 - Disaster.

See it's easy, but at least its fair and the price isn't decided up front by the CEOs like the building trade do.

Government IT procurement is a big game of chicken to see who will say the king has no cloths first. But if they do they won't win any more contracts for a while.

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Silver badge

the simpler solution

identify the govt. IT programmes that work!

After he's found 2 (yes, I know - impossible task) he can start to identify what the common factors were. Presuming that it wasn't down to pure, dumb luck, I wonder how he'll phrase the report so that it doesn't read

"Governments are intrinsically crap at IT".

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Dead Vulture

DOH!

Isn't this just a little like putting one of the usual foxes in charge of the hen house?

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Stop

I wonder how that pitch will go?

"Let Illogica / Crap Gemini / Accidenture / Couldn'tGiveATossOrigin send in their big guns to get the contract signed, then whilst the ink is still drying farm out all the work to Mexico and India, whilst locally letting their recent student intake try and run things. Badly.

Then when (not if, but when) it all goes tits up, threaten to kick them out and watch them return with the people you thought would be doing the work in the first place and sending a suitably enlarged invoice for the privilege.

If all this happens, you've got crap IT."

(Stop icon 'cos companies need to learn to stop paying good money to these arsehole consultancies)

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Coat

Shocking.....

.........they've never given this small contract to my old company, EDS. They have vast experience of "crap" and "expensive" projects.

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Anonymous Coward

Project Management Decisions

The article suggests (humorously, I know) that staff turnover in public sector projects means that there's no-one with an end-to-end view able to terminate a project.

Staff continuity is important - I don't want to detract from that point - but, I'd like to point out that, under Project Management Methodology v2 (a.k.a Prince2) as used in many public sector projects, and other project mangement methodologies, a project manager reports to a project board, which reviews performance against established performance criteria. In fact, the project can't get approved in the first place unless those criteria, and the board, are well established. So, the project's performance should be reviewed objectively and the board can indeed terminate it.

The problems are, IMHO:

(a) gutless project boards too close to their projects and too afraid to see the headlines if they cancel a project .... thus highlighting their failure, at least in part. Project managers need balls of steel, true enough, but project boards need to be utterly ruthless, and in my (albeit limited) experience, they're pretty tame, actually. I had one tell me once, "we're here to help"!

(b) weak contracts that leave the government with insufficient leverage to extract the performance required from the contractor(s), which leads to cost penalties, excusable delays, etc.

Sounds like this ex-Logica bloke is going to do what project boards haven't .... be the ruthless assassin terminating poorly performing projects.

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Bronze badge

Been there, done that.

I'm looking forward to the comments on this one. Like this :-

http://www.nthong.co.uk/wordpress/?page_id=40

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Coat

How to identify crap IT? Simple, really...

If the government is considering it, it's crap. Have any government EVER got good IT?

Well, maybe some ancient Chinese one buying the newfangled abacus...

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Alert

Maybe...

he can point out what a huge waste of the IT budget ID cards are...

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IT Angle

Tax Credits

Does anyone else think that the tax credit system is overly complicated?

For a large percentage of the population, surely it would be possible just to change the tax code for people who qualify so that they don't pay tax on the first part of their income. Surely it would be harder to defraud this system, and give people who qualify an incentive to earn more money... and as their income increases, they would pay more tax.

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Fair's fair

What happened to open competition? I solemnly undertake to state the bleeeeding obvious after 6-9 months careful consideration for 10% less than Mr Read's daily rate.

Eeh bah gum in my day we had to do project plans by scraping coal on t' pavement... couldn't even spell Gantt back then...

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Happy

“not being afraid to abandon a project just because it’s high profile”

Well, somebody has to say it; National Identity Register, they should definitely not be afraid to abandon that tool of a police state...

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Or they could take an OU course

A couple of years ago, I took an excellent six-month Open University course called "Learning from Information System Failures". It taught methods for analysing why a large IT project has failed.

Some of the case studies were Government IT fiascos, such as the UK Passport Agency cockup of 1999, but others were from outside Government. My personal favourite was the disaster surrounding CAPSA, Cambridge University's accounting system.

The course textbook was " Information Systems: Achieving Success by Avoiding Failure" by Fortune and Peters. Yes, it's a naff title, but it's a great read for connoisseurs of IT disasters.

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Paris Hilton

Shouldn't be a difficult job.

... if a government minister insists it's value for money then bin it instantly.

Or perhaps take advice from people without a vested interest in drawing out projects towards eternity and infinite spending... which excludes all their traditional suppliers!

Paris 'cos she's probably better at IT projects than they are...

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Rubbish

Most of the problems with 'public sector' IT projects these days is down to the shambolic and self serving 'private sector' consultancies used to implement these projects. The Treasury and/or other departments are just the customers for these projects and have outsourced management of these projects.

The NHS IT project was a consortia including BT and Fujitsu; EDS ran the inland revenue, CSA and other projects. Blame for their failure should be attributed to them not just government

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N T

Think the unthinkable

> It seems Read’s brief is to think the unthinkable. Whether the government will actually do the unthinkable is quite another matter.

No, they'll just do the undoable (or at least, attempt to).

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Coat

Logica, that well known supplier of IT

Cos of course they never deliver crap, over budget, over running non-functioning solutions!

Coat, cos it is time to leave the country

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Rob
Paris Hilton

going to follow logica's example then?!

who the hell thought he was a good idea to put in that position? logica are hardly a shining example of how to do IT are they, maybe one of his first recommendations will be "avoid logica"

another top move by uk.gov

paris for prime minister, she couldn't do much worse..

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Paris Hilton

In the Beginning...

…There was the Requirement.

A mythical beast, it stood between one micrometre and six foot nine.

Green, or purple, or maybe even visible only in infra red it was either called Colin or Madge… Or something completely different. It had scaled/furred/feathered or pinstripe skin, and would constantly change, or so it was rumoured as nobody in the kingdom had ever successfully captured one.

The less people knew about it, the louder they told those looking for it what it was like.

All they new was that they had to pay for whatever it would produce before the end of the financial year/spending cycle whichever was first.

The Queen once had some loyal advisors who had a rough idea of what one looked like, but these had been retired to save money.

So it was that the great grey/green/blue monster’s lair was never found, but they set off after it regardless.

The MoralTM: If you set out on a journey without knowing where you are going, be sure of just one thing…It will be a bloody long one!

Paris, becuse not only does she have some demanding tightly locked requirements, but some have been reputed to have been captured on film...:P

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Linux

The Unthinkable, Already Thunk and Readied.

"The course textbook was " Information Systems: Achieving Success by Avoiding Failure" by Fortune and Peters. Yes, it's a naff title, but it's a great read for connoisseurs of IT disasters." ..... By David Harper Posted Monday 23rd June 2008 15:18 GMT

Tiddlers Pool Stuff nowadays, Dave.

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Unhappy

Does anyone remember CCTA...?

That used to be a simple internal government consultancy, staffed by civil servant experts. It worked - CCTA run government projects came in on budget and did what they were meant to.

The IT industry lobbied to have CCTA closed down, and it was. I wonder why......

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Paris Hilton

All the above

Being on the clean up (rewrite) squad of an old Logica overengineered lunacy, it just feels like they are using a thief to catch a thief.

Paris 'cause she has seen a balls up in her time.

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Thumb Up

What actually works

Maybe easier/quicker to look at what government IT isn't crap.

My vote is for http://www.transportdirect.info

It seems to do exactly what it was designed to do. Heck knows how they managed that. Any more out there?

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Alert

Commopn sense approach to bidders

(Of course I know this'll never work in government)

1. Before you put out a bid, figure out EXACTLY what you want, SET IT IN STONE! (And make sure you know what you're asking for, and why!)

2. Make it clear to the bidders that this IS what you want, with exact timetable, No extensions, no changes, no extra funds to do what was asked for in the first place. NO DEVIATIONS!

3. Make it clear that if the winning bid mucks it up, or can't deliver, it WILL be forced to refund the entire bid, plus 35% interest.

4. Watch the number of bidders immediately dwindle to a number very close to zero.

5. When the winning bid actually delivers exactly what you ordered, and it is still a total waste of time, effort, and money; 'FESS UP!

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Anonymous Coward

Advice for martin

What you want to do to help you assess uk govt IT is to bring in a boat load of really pig shit thick graddies, from some ex-poly, preferably with degrees in "scrolling up and down", and "continually changing the same line of code".

These, you can then charge out to the govt at full "consultant" rate.

Oh - sorry. my mistake. That was your idea.

ex-logica employee.

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Coat

@tax credits

There simply is NO NEED for the Tax Credits system or Pension Credits system as it stands. All that they need to do is send a letter to punters getting their authorisation, then ping numbers securely to other computers. They could even do it over the internet. Do this instead and you can get rid of both. All the numbers would be spot on, negating the need for unnecessary letters/phone calls. 100,000 civil servants out of a job. Budget slashed, job done. I hope my cheque is in the post.

Poor systems analysis and training (data security springs to mind) such as having Excel instead of Access plagues gov.uk, that's why they're rubbish.

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Gates Horns

hang on

Surely this is a move in the right direction though i mean even hiring some one like this is has got to be good because

A. he'll never hire logica (after all they kicked him out)

B. he probable hates every body else in the IT industry so will want to screw them into the ground if they step out of line.

it all depends whether is

A. actualy competent at his job so will make sure the requiremens and contracts are water tight.

B. incompetent but does the job the best he can (we will still probable see some improvment cause lets face it it can't be worse)

C. just there for the money and in which case nothing will change

gates horns just cause we all know we is but can't prove it

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Alert

HMRC

I have to say that the Revenue's Self Assessment web site works well for me, even when I suddenly remember it's the end of Jan and I have until midnight to get it done.

Mind you, it took them a while to get it right.

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Happy

Ready ReckNer

Is it British in Origin? - It's crap

Is it American in Origin - It's pretencious crap

Is it handled by Logica? - It's crap with all the good stuff syphoned off

Does it run in a windows environment - it's insecure crap

Is it for the benefit of the UK government - it's really really really crap, incredibly slow, designed on the back of a fag packet, badly implemented, shoehorned into a space it doesn't fit, cobbled into life with temporary workarounds, rife with insecure procedures, out of date, overly complicated to use, ten times more expensive than the original budget and 4 years late.

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The Guardian 28th May 2007

Martin Read former CEO was forced out of Logica due to profit warning, because of an 18 month spending spree spearheaded by Read (approx 2billion yahoo finance) according to the guardian. He decided to accelerate his retirement plans because of this. Logica shares were worth £24 in 2000 and are currently trading at 106.50p.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2007/may/28/3

MAX:- It appears that Martin Read lacked the foresite to jettison extensive spending on acquisitions by his company whilst the CEO of Logica, so how on earth will he be able to help the current public IT Projects?

It seems that if Read’s brief is to think the unthinkable, he is likely to spend more money and take even longer to deliver, I presume?

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Anonymous Coward

Government and IT

Just use smaller consultancies, and have the government departments work directly with them, allocating a budget for IT that can only be used in the field of IT to improve departmental systems.

Software production doesn't work at the large scale level, you cannot create a factory of software developers, and don't believe anyone who claims they can, it just leads to projects that are over budget, over deadline, and under purposed.

And stop with the creation of centralized ID systems, computer systems can be used for far more than just that. Government should be looking at streamlining, and improving services to the people, not trying to monitor them.

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