📅 Daily note for 9 July 2024

Some machinery of government changes starting to come through. DLUHC is now MHCLG⬈ (the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government) again, which is good. Also all the digital stuff (GDS, CDDO etc) is going into DSIT⬈ (the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology) which is potentially exciting.

It will be interesting to see where the Local Digital programme ends up – staying in the policy department or moving across with all the digital teams? #

UK Authority reports⬈ on Birmingham City Council extending their contract with Oracle, despite it being a pretty disastrous relationship thus far. I commented on LinkedIn, and am pasting here for posterity:

Am not sure what their alternative was, to be fair. They have to have a system to do this stuff, and signing with another supplier would mean starting the whole implementation process again on top of the licensing costs – and I can’t see how that would offer better value for tax payers.

Also we have to bear in mind that Birmingham has a budget of £3.2 BILLION – using the standard ERP estimate of 1-3% of budget, means anything in the range of £12 – £36 million.

This is an exceptional case and the numbers have to be huge. I personally think a big issue here originally was the fact that the budget was nowhere near big enough in the first place – which of course means that the original business case was fantasy stuff…

Personally, I would be glad if no council ever bought Oracle ever again. But in this specific case, the reason things went so badly wrong were not entirely the fault of the technology vendor:

the decision to replace the existing system, chasing a highly speculative ‘transformation’ dream – based on a recommendation made by a certain consultancy firm that ought to have known better
a budget and timescale for implementation that were pure fantasy
a lack of understanding of the need to redesign processes to enable the new software to work properly
massive over customisation of the system by the systems integrator, which nobody else could understand
a decision to go live despite the system not having been tested and with multiple vital integrations not properly working.


How Rushmoor Borough Council have saved money on printing and posting⬈. #

This is really interesting from Richard Pope⬈:

Designing the digital account for the Universal Credit digital account, it was abundantly clear that the approach to design that worked for GOV.UK and was spreading across government was fundamentally unsuited to services that used automation, intentionally placed burdens on the public through policy choice, and used data from across government. As was the need for greater transparency and accountability. But as design practice spread across government, the focus on simplicity took on a life of its own, developing into what, at times, felt like a tyranny of design, where anything that distracted from the proximate user need was impossible to justify. The idea that digital public services needed to be more than transactional was lost.


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