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back to article MP 'shocked' at failures 'at the top' of the BBC over epic DMI tech fail

Labour MP Margaret Hodge, chair of the Public Accounts Committee, has said that the failure of the BBC to realise that its Digitial Media Initiative uber-project was headed for certain doom went "right to the top". Hodge, who is due to quiz senior members of the Beeb again on Monday next week, said that she was shocked by the …

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"There was no Senior Responsible Owner"

Oh no

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Anonymous Coward

"There was no Senior Responsible Owner"

It wouldn't have mattered if there had been, because he/she would no doubt have been a 'manager' with as much experience and understanding of technology as an average new born newt.

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Anonymous Coward

Yeah... Whereas, I always find that techies know everything about project management and don't just focus on their own specialisms.

Nah, actually what usually happens is that the techies invariably don't have any idea about project management and just bitch about how easy it is and that the project managers are all morons. etc. etc.

Projects need management if they're going to have a cat in hell's chance of succeeding.

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re: "There was no Senior Responsible Owner"

Fractally correct of the UKreign today. Shall we have a treasure hunt?

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Correction

"There was no one willing to admit to being the Senior Responsible Owner and lots of people desperate to hang onto their jobs with six-figure salaries"

I'm surprised they didn't offer the cleaner as the SRO.

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Anonymous Coward

Yeah... Whereas, I always find that techies know everything about project management and don't just focus on their own specialisms.

Nah, actually what usually happens is that the techies invariably don't have any idea about project management and just bitch about how easy it is and that the project managers are all morons. etc. etc.

Projects need management if they're going to have a cat in hell's chance of succeeding.

No need to post anonymously, we techies don't bite you know.

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of stuufed shirts and project managers.

There is a world of difference between a technically competent project manager and the kind of stuffed-shirt idiot that usually gets the job in government and BBC tech projects.

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Anonymous Coward

I am a techie, I just have a good understanding of my limitations which is a very valuable skill.

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Anonymous Coward

"Projects need management if they're going to have a cat in hell's chance of succeeding."

Cat in hell? Is this an Reg endorsed unit of probabilistic measure?

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I prefer "snowball's chance in a neutron star."

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An MP was shocked

that a major government/Qango IT project was a fuck-up OR that they only wasted a mere 100Million ?

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Re: An MP was shocked

Hodge's stock position on everything these days is to be shocked or appalled. If you're looking for a good sound bite about something that is shocking, Margaret Hodge is your go-to girl.

Companies paying all tax they owe, but not more than they have to? HMRC are "appalling"

Not getting enough restitution from convicted organized crime bosses? "Pathetic and appalling"

Queen's roof falling down? "Shocked by complacency of palace staff"

MoJ fines capita for poor quality of interpreters? "Appalling"

Public sector gagging clauses? "Shocking"

Frankly I'm amazed that there is anything left on this good earth that can even mildly surprise the woman.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: An MP was shocked

That she is now investigating something during her parties time in office that was never delivered and overbudget.

sounds like another day at the office for nu labour's "digital britain"

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Re: An MP was shocked

That is the only way 'Hodge the dodge' can deflect scrutiny of her own behaviour.

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Re: An MP was shocked

"Hodge's stock position" is tiny, tiny, tiny (and if you mention it, she'll threaten to sue).

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Re: An MP was shocked

"Hodge's stock position" is tiny, tiny, tiny (and if you mention it, she'll threaten to sue).

Awesome

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How on earth...

do they spend £100million before discovering it doesn't work?

A project like this would be pretty costly, but mainly in the sheer grunt work of digitising decades of material and creating the metadata, and the cost of the hardware. Building a digital media library is not a fundamentally complicated concept. Surely one does a pilot/proof of concept then build it up to a full system and only then do you buy hardware and start digitising.

So how in heaven's name can they spend £100 million?

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Re: How on earth...

So how in heaven's name can they spend £100 million?

Consultancy...

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Re: How on earth...

I'm purely guessing here. The idea was to call for tenders and then decide for the best submission. But no one at BBC had the slightest idea how to define the specifications for this DMI. So, they started with a call for tenders to write a call for tenders. And for this, of course, already some consultants were needed, likely some that were going to bid later on as well.

And this was just the start.

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Re: How on earth...

Surely one does a pilot/proof of concept then build it up to a full system

That's technical thinking.

"Real Business Leader" thinking is to make your project as big as possible, so that you are seen as "Being Important". Then, once you have the budget you have to spend it. It may all fail, but in the meantime you'll have been paid a lot. And with good planning you'll have moved on to another "Big Project" before the failure is noticed, so won't get any (or not much) of the blame.

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So how in heaven's name can they spend £100 million?

Have you never heard of the Dr Who Screen Of Death?

RTFAs. They have this yellow screen painted into the scenery so that everyone is familiar with the backdrop; then, when it is alright on the night, they will all be pleased as punch.

Or if it all goes tit's up, they just fire the scriptwriters/think it is supposed to look like that.

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Holmes

Pot - Kettle - Black

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Anonymous Coward

Glad I don't pay for a TV licence. The BBC is shockingly bad, their default position on any technology issue seems to be "we'll make our own".

They went to the trouble of making their own video compression codec once too.

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Anonymous Coward

Yeah, the also had a very large hand in developing transmission theory and practice, developing the transmission network, radio and TV standards. Who would have thought it from one of the largest and most respected broadcasters in the world?

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"Yeah, the also had a very large hand in developing transmission theory and practice, developing the transmission network, radio and TV standards. Who would have thought it from one of the largest and most respected broadcasters in the world?"

Yeah, but that was back in Ye Olden steam driven days when the BBC employed people on a salary to do stuff like that instead of farming it out to overpaid consultants and contractors who are sucking on the Govt. teat.

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Happy

Bad reporting?

That's the BBC!

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Re: Bad reporting?

I remember their advert for explaining digital TV made by the BBC that was narrated by Jack Dee and Richard Wilson, back in the late 1990's/early 2000's.

"It's transmitted over the air in 1's and 0's and can pass through buildings without loss of reception".

Poor reporting is endemic within the BBC.

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Clueless asshat shocked and appalled by other clueless asshats.

In other news 'Pope shits in woods'.

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So how did the BBC pull off the iPlayer?

It was late and over-budget, but was clearly a massive technical and popular success. Why did the BBC have the technical and organisational acumen to succeed with the iPlayer, but fail so massively with DMI? Something doesn't add up. I suggest there has been more than mere incompetence.

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Re: So how did the BBC pull off the iPlayer?

BBC (Technology) used to be staffed by underpaid hard working techies who invented bloody brilliant things as and when they could. In ~ 2001-2002, BBC (Technology) was outsourced to Siemens, in house tech was then done by consultants who say they will be cheaper but inevitably are not.

iplayer has some impressive technological underpinnings, but it is essentially a well understood problem with a bunch of well understood solutions, that was implemented by a small team that knew precisely what they were doing.

So, hiring consultants to define the project, check, poorly understood requirements leading to constantly redefining the requirements, check, poorly defined deliverables and success criteria, check.

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Anonymous Coward

MP 'shocked'

and...

they're going to show how very, very shocked they are, so that their constituents will feel... better. Perhaps the MPs, will even raise to the challenge, and write a letter to the beeb, to express how awfully shocked they are.

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Anonymous Coward

old but sadly relevant ...

In the Beginning was The Plan

And then came the Assumptions

And the Assumptions were without form

And the Plan was completely without substance

And the darkness was upon the face of the Workers

And the Workers spoke amongst themselves, saying

"It is a crock of shit, and it stinketh."

And the Workers went unto their Supervisors and sayeth,

"It is a pail of dung and none may abide the odor thereof."

And the Supervisors went unto their Managers and sayeth unto them,

"It is a container of excrement and it is very strong,

such that none may abide by it."

And the Managers went unto their Directors and sayeth,

"It is a vessel of fertilizer, and none may abide its strength."

And the Directors spoke among themselves, saying one to another,

"It contains that which aids plant growth, and it is very strong."

And the Directors went unto the Vice Presidents and sayeth unto them,

"It promotes growth and is very powerful."

And the Vice Presidents went unto the President and sayeth unto him,

"This new Plan will actively promote the growth and efficiency of this

Company, and in these Areas in particular."

And the President looked upon The Plan,

And saw that it was good, and The Plan became Policy.

And then the Chair of the Public Accounts Committee criticised it to get some easy publicity and to distract those naughty people who say it's inappropriate for someone hiding assets in trusts to then criticise others for obeying the law.

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Something to do

And there's still the matter, was it defined by Yes Minister?, of;

Something needs to be done, this is something, let's do it.

Actually then taking responsibility, or even interest, is a different matter for a bunch of of Oxbridge greasy pole climbers

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