Your shout: Gateway reviews, government IT, female staff

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Computer Weekly readers' give their views on the week's news

Don't blame civil servants for IT project silence

Tim Collins, Independent IT consultant

Although publishing the Gateway reviews of government IT projects (Computer Weekly, 12 September) would aid the “lessons learned” ethos, the main reason they have not been published in the past is not really down to a reluctance of civil servants but that of the government itself.

The reviews will highlight that civil servants are in fact conscious of the general failing of large scale government IT projects and associated costs, but that government ministers will not allow the hard decisions to be taken to allow such failing projects and contracts to be brought into line as they should.

The reviews will show more the incompetence of government officials than the Civil Service and this is why there has been a reluctance to make them public in the past.

I do agree that there are commercial sensitivities in these documents but they will show more about the close links most of these projects have to a limited commercial group than anything that would provide commercial advantage to competitors.

I for one would welcome the release of these reviews if only to ensure that the government began making more decisions based on commercial sense than not wanting to upset the apple cart and potential donors.

Government IT should be upgraded, not overhauled

Tim Holyoake, Principal consultant, Software AG

Yet again, the government is in the public eye for wasting public money in its failure to implement the Benefits Reprocessing Payments Programme (Computer Weekly, 12 September).

With a full inquiry now pending, it’s time for the government to learn from earlier schemes to ensure that future projects run smoothly and to plan.

Instead of wasting funds on projects that require huge input and radical overhauls, it would be less expensive and less risky to make the most of existing systems by better linking information and systems.

Desired results can be achieved through breathing new life and value into infrastructures already present. Enabling interoperability minimises downtime and expense, while maximising efficiency.

The government’s approach to IT upgrades needs to evolve. Rather than being in the press over failed projects, it must make the most of past experience and impress the public moving forward in completing major upgrades efficiently and without further costs or time delays.

Advice for employers on retaining female staff

Clare Wilson, Employer liaison coordinator, UKRC

I read with interest the article “Prioritise retention as staff get itchy feet” (Computer Weekly, 29 August). 

It referred to the significant costs to a business of a high turnover of staff. One aspect of retention is the retention of women, especially as the percentage of women in IT has either remained static or has dropped in recent years. 

The UK Resource Centre for women in Science, Engineering and Technology (UKRC) is funded by the DTI and the European Social Fund. It has undertaken extensive research into the factors that influence women to leave an employer and indeed the sector. 

A major factor is the workplace culture and we have developed a tool analysing this area in individual organisations. This tool is one of a variety of services, advice and consultancy for employers offered by the UKRC to help them increase their retention of women. 

Company billing systems are a dog’s breakfast

Richard Gardner, IT manager, Tann UK

Is it just me or are big companies’ systems all a mess? Having just moved house I can’t think of a single company over a certain size doing anything right. At all.

For example, our last gas company made so many mistakes in our billing they had to write off all their charges for two years.

Our water company applied a credit to our account, closed that account, lost the credit, opened another account, then sent both bills to a debt collection agency.

Our life insurance company wrote to tell us we hadn’t completed a direct debit mandate a week after taking the first payment.

Our mortgage company can’t work out 95% of our house value.

My student loans company can’t decide how much I owe it – somewhere between £400 and £1,000, it thinks.

What are they all doing? Where are the business analysts? Have they all been fired, or is everyone too busy implementing ITIL to bother getting their basic billing processes right?

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