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Your shout: software hindrance, gender qualities, NHS IT

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Off-the-shelf software can be a brake on change

John Galbraith, ICT client and modernisation manager, Stockport Council

I refer to your article on change management by Colin Ashurst ("Cross the transformation chasm", Computer Weekly, 21 November). I agree that projects are more likely to succeed if the project organisation focuses on business transformation and benefits realisation rather than on technology and its delivery.

There is clearly a lot of theory and sense in this article's premise. IT should be considered as an enabler and not the solution itself.

However, Ashurst seems to focus specifically on projects where technology solutions are developed or very highly customisable, to the exclusion, it would seem, of off-the-shelf software packages created by suppliers for their "mass market". This is evidenced by a couple of statements he makes:

● "The technical solutions were delivered through a customer focused, agile development process."

● "The last area of competency is a flexible IT infrastructure that enables rapid delivery of new business initiatives."

In projects where the evaluated technology solutions are off-the-shelf application software, there is clearly much less flexibility in the IT solution as it does not involve a development process.

In these types of projects therefore, whilst the project organisation should not ignore the business change and benefits realisation issues, it cannot help but also focus on the technology solution.

This is not least because it is effectively a standard fixed solution with little, if any, scope for flexibility and development. Consequentially, whilst being an enabler to the project outcome, this could also be perceived to be a constraint in many respects.

'Vive la difference!' as women stay away from IT

Angela Bartram, Artemis Corporation

I am writing in response to your news story on falling numbers of women in IT (Computer Weekly, 28 November).

In all the IT companies I have worked for women have been in the minority and if they were there they tended to be in marketing, administration and accounts. These job functions are definitely not relevant to what the company does. The skills are business skills and not IT skills.

So therefore is this the choice of women - that they are not interested enough in IT to pursue it as a career? That is certainly the case for myself. I like IT from a marketing perspective, as it is fast moving and therefore remains fresh, but not really from a technology angle.

Does this not just highlight the fact that men and women are different, and isn't this a good thing anyway?

Why I decided to leave the industry after 15 years

Name and address supplied

I worked in IT for 15 years and after a peptic ulcer and numerous stress-related illnesses I left the industry at the grand old age of 33.

I was a very well qualifed and experienced member of a technical department who felt as if my career was going nowhere.

If you are female and want a very rough time in the workplace then train for a career in IT.

It does not surprise me in the slightest that just 16% of the IT workforce is female. I would expect that figure to decline dramatically in the future.

I feel that IT is rather like the construction industry - male-dominated and not very welcoming.

Where is the method behind NHS IT madness?

Derek Nelson-Wills, Worthing

At last MPs will hold an inquiry into the NHS national programme for IT (NPfIT). Why has it taken so long?

The NPfIT seems to be a means to force a public service into bankruptcy, by setting false targets, such as efficiency and budgets, when neither are truly measurable in terms of cost-per-patient.

Now, because of this overly complex and financially wasteful project, numerous hospitals, mostly in non-Labour constituencies, have been earmarked for rationalisation, downgrading or closure.

Many towns and cities are expanding, yet their hospitals are faced with the prospect of cuts - all because the NPfIT was not properly scoped, costed, risk-assessed or managed.

We have heard little about which, if any, project management process/methodology has been employed. Where is Prince2, or similar, mentioned? The Gateway reviews have been kept secret - why? Because the truth is probably totally unacceptable to the majority of the British public.


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