In the IT Governance & Value Blog (Public IT Cuts; babies and bathwater come to mind, Computer Weekly, 1-7 June 2010) there was a focus on the requirement for robust, objective, comprehensive and fair assessments in determining which IT projects need to be abandoned, re-scoped or postponed.
However, the current environment suggests life may not be so idyllic. The Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition has decided to start cutting now, and believes it needs to move quickly. Conducting comprehensive assessments may be a luxury which does not fit such an aggressively rapid timetable for change.
Instead, the key challenge will be to adopt governance which is "good enough", and which includes clear decision-making criteria which supports policy, and which can be understood and implemented by those throughout government who are responsible for implementing the change. This governance must also include processes for extracting the key data which informs decision-making – data which may not be perfect but which is sufficiently robust to allow intelligent judgments to be made and justified. This may be an approach which does not sit well with managers within the public sector.
Further, we may be in a position where babies are thrown out with the bathwater. If the coalition is to meet its spending targets, it is likely that projects which are perceived to have value will have to be stopped or postponed. The message from day one of this government has been clear: we are facing a period of austerity and decisions will be taken in large part on the basis of simply what can be afforded, not just value for money or what is fair.
To see PA's pages on Shared Services and Outsourcing, please click here.