Monday, August 26, 2002

The other thing that happens with a bit of press coverage, whether it's good or bad ... is a bit more press coverage. Sometimes it's pretty neutral, like this follow-up to the above pieces from the BBC. By the way folks at the beeb - that latter piece was the hardest to find. I think there is more than one search engine on bbc.co.uk - but the one I was using couldn't find the article, even if I typed in its title. Might have been me I suppose, but still seemed way too hard. The other kind of followup, is like this one from vnunet, the "soup to nuts" story or, more accurately in my case the "carpaccio to creme brulee" story. This piece is well worth a read. I think it's by the same guy that writes the "mole" column, which is must-read stuff. The essence of the article is that the job we've taken on is too hard (as evidenced by the myriad of flawed IT projects in government) and maybe even impossible, because you can't build a single "anything" that will satisfy the many constituencies in government. This latter point is the interesting one. He may be right. Or, nearly right. Our work so far shows that if you can have a level conversation with different departments - i.e. without vested interests on display - then most needs align. At least to the 80% level. The remainder, good old Pareto's 20% (originally theorised to map the wealth distribution in a population, but just as valid here) is the hard bit. If we can avoid spending 80% of the budget on the 20%, then I think we have a good chance. This will require diligence and focus on what's different, why and whether it's cheaper to change the process rather than the IT. My guess is more the latter than the former. Still, "food for thought" so to speak.

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