The dangers of long term IT outsourcing contracts - the BBC way

The BBC is now planning its future after a ten year deal, originally with Siemens Business Services (SBS), comes to an end next year.

Back in 2004 the BBC signed a massive IT outsourcing deal with SBS which included the IT services firm, now part of Atos, acquiring the BBC’s IT infrastructure and taking on 1400 of its IT staff.

The BBC is now moving to lots off contract covering different parts of IT. Ads a BBC spokesperson told Computer Weekly: “We are moving from one monolithic contract covering everything to multiple contracts with a number of specialist companies. This allows us to get better value, greater flexibility and access to new technology as it emerges.”

This has been a trend for quite some time in the private sector as companies such as BP run highly efficient multi-sourced IT services ecosystems.

The BBC had a bad experience in this contract. Over the years I spoke to several people that told me the BBC was desperate to get out of that contract but simply couldn’t.

Perhaps the BBC was being innovative back in 2004 by having a huge deal with a single supplier and offloading its IT infrastructure and IT staff. But time change and that was a commitment too far.