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On project management in the public sector
In response to news that the Housing Corporation has launched an investigation into allegations about the management of a £17m IT modernisation project (Computer Weekly, 20 July)
Does anyone else think that the chief executive of the Housing Corporation, Jon Rouse, branding one of his staff a "whistle-blower" may be indicative of why this individual went to the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister instead of through the corporation's internal structure.
The phrase "whistle-blower" has never been used as a term of endearment or in a complimentary way.
Jon Rouse has shown that, by using this terminology, he sees the person responsible for the leak not as a concerned member of the team, worried about a project that is costing the taxpayer £17m and is more than a year behind schedule, but a treacherous sneak.
The Housing Corporation has gone so far as to suspend a member of staff as a "precautionary measure". Can anyone tell me what this means? It certainly would not encourage others to approach senior management directly if they had concerns about the project.
On the clinicians' view of the NHS IT scheme
In response to a survey which found that doctors feel they have not been consulted enough about the national programme for IT in the NHS (Computer Weekly, 3 August)
The dwindling support for the NHS IT programme among clinicians on the front line sadly isn't surprising. Until medical staff within the health service can be convinced that IT is going to improve efficiency and working conditions, it is going to be difficult to enthuse them.
The NHS needs to start examining the way in which it communicates IT policy to staff. In order to ensure staff buy-in to network upgrades, for example, it needs to make clinicians aware that, by improving IT, quantifiable benefits can be achieved.
Research by Topcall UK shows that intelligently deployed IT has the potential to streamline NHS communications, slash waiting times and save about £470m a year. That is exactly the kind of "good news" story that needs to be communicated throughout the health service.
Mark Reynolds, managing director, Topcall UK
On the EU software patents directive
In response to Helen Beckett's feature, in which she revealed that IT directors could be in danger of unwittingly breaking software patents if a draft EU directive is enacted (Computer Weekly, 27 July)
I read with interest your feature on software patents (Computer Weekly, 27 July), as I believe that the EU has made a big mistake.
The legislation will mean the software industry gets bogged down in court cases, funds earmarked for R&D will be spent on legal fees, new ideas will be squashed for fear of copyright infringement, and transatlantic battles will no doubt ensue when the class action lawyers in the US spot the opportunities
We do not understand the minefield that we are getting into here. The 1973 European Patent Convention was correct in stating that mathematical methods, intellectual methods, business methods, computer programs, presentation of information and so on are not inventions in the sense of patent law. I believe that the proposed legislation could make a number of people, including some MEPs, very rich, and the motivation to have this endorsed is not the protection of inventors (which is the purpose of a patent) but the short route to comfortable retirement.
Allan Poot, European sales director, Ipswitch
On eradicating spam
In response to claims by Robert Horton, chairing an International Telecoms Union conference, that spam could be wiped out in two years (Computer Weekly, 20 July)
We do not need to wait two years to eradicate spam. I have already completely eradicated it for myself by using a simple e-mail product called Mailblocks (www.mailblocks.com). It employs a combined whitelist and blacklist approach, and costs me all of £6 a year.
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State regulation cannot increase IT efficiency
Lindsay Nicolle's article on compliance (Computer Weekly, 13 July) makes the claim that state regulation of IT may increase its efficiency. This is ridiculous.
Businesses are already deeply interested in productivity and efficiency - far more so than any regulator - since this is where profits come from. If the measures advocated by regulators really would increase productivity, businesses could adopt them of their own accord without delay.
The fact is that regulators realise only too well that their ideas will not be adopted, and they intend to use the power of the state to force them down everyone's throats. This suggests that the measures will reduce economic efficiency and profits, mostly by imposing unnecessary costs. This in turn explains why businesses will not voluntarily adopt these ideas, and hence why the brute force of the state is needed to enforce them.
Or are we to believe that government bureaucrats, who live in a mollycoddled world, shielded from economic reality and any real accountability to the public, know more about profits and efficiency than business does?
BFJ Cricklewood, senior software engineer
Get compliance right and cut your costs
Your article "Compliance: make it work for you" (Computer Weekly, 13 July) points out that the cost of dealing with compliance from the outset appears alarming, but the cost incurred by companies who do not comply is far more of a worry.
Although compliance traditionally has negative connotations, there are a number of positives. Not only can businesses take their lead from proactive companies that are aggressively attacking the compliance challenge as a marketing tool to demonstrate forward thinking and leadership, but any business can use compliance as a catalyst to take a long, hard look at its internal systems and processes.
To remain viable, businesses have to bring down the barriers between different departments, drive out duplication in processes, reduce processing costs and improve operations alongside compliance efforts.
Business process management software can help organisations quickly achieve regulatory compliance in numerous areas, as well as deliver extended benefits by streamlining core processes.
In short, if you get the processes right, you will not only achieve compliance, but you will increase overall effectiveness and cut costs.
Laura Mooney, director of corporate marketing, Metastorm
Sarbanes-Oxley: beware suppliers bearing gifts
Ernst & Young's Erol Mustafa is right to state that management should not underestimate the IT implications of Sarbanes-Oxley (Computer Weekly, 27 July).
However, organisations must beware of IT suppliers bearing gifts. In an increasingly regulation-bound world, organisations are vulnerable to the offer of a quick fix. The truth is, there isn't one.
No IT system alone can deliver compliance with Sarbanes-Oxley, or any other regulations. When it comes to interpreting these guidelines, it is compliance expertise that is required first and foremost, not IT expertise.
It is tempting in a tough market for IT suppliers to look to exploit the legislative landscape to boost revenue. But the only way an organisation is going to achieve compliance is by undertaking a thorough review of business processes to discover what changes are needed to meet the guidelines.
Once the right procedures and checks have been designed, then IT systems can play a role in monitoring and reporting on business transactions, but only then. And existing systems should be more than capable of meeting that need.
Shabbir Osman, UK managing director, Eclipse Computing
Cisco must listen to its users and resellers
I believe the problems Cisco is facing with its Shared Support Programme (SSP) (Computer Weekly, 27 July) are due to growing pains and the fact that it makes resellers do much more work than they need to.
For the SSP to evolve it will need support - something it is clearly not getting - and the pains may be too much for the services to outgrow. More work and increased costs for users seem the inevitable result of these changes, and this is not going to be received with open arms.
Users face an increased workload from having to supply Cisco with the serial numbers and location of all new kit. Even Cisco's own resellers have been making noises on the subject and, as they are the main point of contact for customers, surely their voice should be heard.
Kevin Barnes, business development director, Adtran