Sunday, September 02, 2007

I'm dying to see how this works out.

Many years ago when I was IT manager in a large firm I was involved in discussions with Group IT over two shared projects that they were managing our our behalf. A bit like hiring an external firm to do your payroll and personnel processing. The services were signed up to by my predecessor who went on to a job with Group IT at HQ. Funny that. Anyway, during my time discussing the abysmal service levels we were getting it was obvious that they were, well..., crap and had no real chance of getting better. But Group HQ had dictated that Group companies could not back out of any existing services we had signed up for no matter what the service was like and we just had to wait until it got better. Wouldn't be long now was the standard report.

So back at the ranch. I had to stand up in front of the MD and the board and explain every month why we were paying over the odds for a very poor service. It got so bad at some of these meetings that I was being given a right slating and in the end I was told in no uncertain terms that I needed to fix the problem and I was not to come back with the standard excuses I had given in the past, which amazingly enough were actually just repeats as reported by Group IT.

So having to make up some new excuses was a bit of a problem. Group IT had used up all the realistic sounding ones several times over and it had already gotten to the stage when nobody from HQ wanted to speak to me between the times the service report was issued and the board meeting took place because they didn't want to be quoted verbatim.

So the next month I racked my brains. This took about twenty seconds but I did it hundreds, no, thousands of times. In the end I had a couple of really feeble sounding excuses based on the latest figures and reports from Group IT and I knew I would feel a right idiot reeling them out while I and everyone else knew they were made up.

In the end the very next board meeting I reported that the system we were using was clearly not fit for purpose and I was going to present a proposal for a purchase of a new system to be managed in house to cover both payroll and personnel on one platform. When I presented it at the next meeting is showed a clear breakdown of costs showing that we were going to do it for less than half the cost of the existing system. That Group IT was going to be 70% of the ongoing costs which would be saved when we activated our system. This saving clearly justified the cost of the system and I got my new system even though everyone in that room knew we would make no savings at all.

We paid Group IT for a system we never used for the next four years until I left the company. Every year I reported the costs up to management and every year they hid it in internal costs which corporate loved because it was keeping it in the company.

Now. What are these guys going to say? Read here about a Russian Mayor bans a list of common excuses. This must be a job for consultants. They will be able to make up some new excuses. Can't wait to see what happens here. How am I going to keep my eye on it? Read about the executions or simply wait till our bunch implement it here.


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