In defence of SMEs

The other day, I wrote a piece in Government Computing  arguing that some of the recent coverage about teething troubles with service provision by SMEs at DECC and BIS were the inevitable outcome of the government’s 25 years of comparative neglect of its own domestic ICT marketplace in favour of largely foreign-owned conglomerates.  What do we expect?  I used the example of the pain of an addict going cold turkey to argue that just because there is some pain involved doesn’t mean that withdrawal of the addiction isn’t still necessary for survival.

See this excellent blog from Alan Mather on the same topic.  Alan’s blog corroborates ‘backchat’ that I have heard that much of this has been whipped up by the present SI incumbent who is losing a sizeable chunk of revenue – as well, of course, that another SI continues to be involved that has somehow escaped criticism.

All in all, we should be extremely wary of commentary that ‘the pendulum is starting to swing back’  towards the old model, and such like.  This is simply to miss the point.  Government still has an enormous journey to undertake if it to offer citizens towards digital business models and supporting consumption-based, standardised, modular and cheap technologies:  ‘radical modernisation’ would be a much better metaphor to use than ‘pendulum’.  This is a one-way journey.

Placing these minor email outages in perspective, it seems today that MoJ has written off £56.3m on an ERP project that was designed specifically for its own use.  Rather than exercising the (considerable) self-discipline that would be required to converge, in time, on consumption of a standard, off-the-peg ERP, (outside-in); apparently it deserves its own, bespoke one (inside out).  Worse, it seems Cabinet Office had its own similarly messianic plans, and has been busy bespoking another one.  D’oh!

‘Pendulum’?  Definitely not.

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