EDS' IT buddying boosts job project

An innovative outsourcing technique that "binds the business" into IT projects has helped EDS and the Employment Service launch...

An innovative outsourcing technique that "binds the business" into IT projects has helped EDS and the Employment Service launch job search kiosks into supermarkets.

Last week employment minister Tessa Jowell announced the roll-out of kiosks that will allow people to search a national database of about 400,000 vacancies while doing their shopping. Initially, the project will be piloted at Tesco's Luton store.

Charles Cox, managing director of welfare-to-work at EDS, believes the success of the project flows from a management structure which pairs IT staff from the Employment Service with EDS technical staff and a business manager.

"This is a totally joint project. There are not two parties any more, we have the processes in place to bind in the business. This is a single entity," he said.

A cultural split between supplier and customer staff is often blamed for the failure of outsourcing initiatives.

The Jobpoint project was developed using a "gated" process, which allowed input from all parties at the pre-design, design and implementation stages.

Gary Rowing-Parker, an EDS project manager for Jobpoints, said the greater consensual nature of the IT project helped foster widespread support from staff.

"With the gated process we now have a high level of satisfaction. Design work was done in touch with a community of interested parties, creating a foundation for buy- in," he said.

Although this form of "buddying" between supplier and customer IT professionals has been used in industry for some time, this is one of the first projects to employ it in UK central government, said Robert Morgan, chief executive at outsourcing consultancy Morgan Chambers. "This is a proven way of keeping amendments and changes in functional requirements to a minimum. This can result in reduced implementation times and lower costs."

The Jobpoint project has installed kiosks at 83 Jobcentres across the UK and plans to reach all 1,050 centres by January next year.

The system is supported by an Oracle database of job vacancies running on IBM Numa-Q hardware. EDS developed a Java interface for the browser-based kiosks. A geo-spatial application running on the network allows job-seekers to view the location of each vacancy.

Lindsay Clark
lindsay.clark@rbi.co.uk

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