Is £400m IBM deal with Somerset jinxed?

We’re beginning to feel sorry for IBM. It has worked so hard to make a success of its £400m joint venture with Somerset County Council. But …

1) A SAP go-live goes wrong and the council ends up apologising to staff.

2) The Tories, who’d frowned on the joint venture when they were in opposition, end up as Somerset County Council’s ruling party.

3) The council’s leader, Alan Jones, who’d been the most ardent supporter of the joint venture, leaves.

4) The model organisation doesn’t get its accounts filed on time – which is a gift for council staff who oppose the deal.

5) The deal ends up on BBC News for the wrong reasons – the new Tory leader wants an inquiry into the contract amid complaints of leaks.

6) Richard Jones, the CEO of the joint venture, announces that he’s taking early retirement.


Now the IBM-owned joint venture has conceded that it has – horror of horrors – got its own name wrong. Companies House has told the joint venture it is “not conforming to legal requirements”.

In other words it’s breaking the law. All because it calls itself “Southwest One” when it has a different registered name: South West One.

The problem began when the name South West One was registered very early in the life of the joint venture, and then it became known as Southwest One.

Surely an easy thing to fix?


 It requires:

  •  Notification of the name change to South West One’s directemployees; secondees including executives and managers; IBMers includingexecutives, managers, secondees and consultants; and other IBM divisions thatsupport and communicate on behalf of South West One.

  •   A change, where necessary,  to the correct registered name, in legiblelettering, whether in hard copy, electronic or other form, in all businessletters, compliments slips, business cards and order forms; all notices andother official publications including marketing material such as case studies;all cheques and orders for money or goods purporting to be signed by, or onbehalf of, the company; all invoices, receipts and letters of credit; and allwebsites.

The list of extra – and costly – work goes on but we don’twant to rub Southwest one’s nose in it. Sorry South West One’s.

We’re even reluctant to mention that South West One is now insome financial difficulty after declaring a pre-tax loss of £2.5m.

All that said, we should support the joint venture andreport some of the good news from its brochures…now where’ve they gone? 


Council chief’s apology after SAP go-live –

Somerset to review controversial outsourcing deal – Local Government Chronicle

David Cameron urged to gag MP

South West One’s pre-tax loss – BBC Online

Documentary on IBM £400m deal – IT Projects blog

South West One and the James Barlow blog