Public sector IT projects ignore users

Frontline workers’ views on IT developments in public services are ignored while their managers are uncertain about the benefits of IT, according to research by the Work Foundation think-tank.

Frontline workers’ views on IT developments in public services are ignored while their managers are uncertain about the benefits of IT, according to research by the Work Foundation think-tank.

The survey of 500 staff from central and local government, education and the NHS found that only one-third were given the chance to express their views about the technology they used at work, although two-thirds thought IT had made their jobs easier. Just one in three said they trusted management decisions about IT.

The research also found that only one-third of public sector managers agreed that IT should be an integral part of organisational changes. Fewer than four in 10 thought there were any long-term benefits from investment in IT. Six out of 10 managers neither agreed nor disagreed about the benefits of ICT.

“This demonstrates a high and worrying degree of uncertainty about the advantages or otherwise of ICT,” says the report, entitled "How ICT? Managing at the Frontline".

According to the report, the case for ICT has “not yet been made”, and there is “far too much complacency among those fully engaged with these debates” about whether the benefits of IT for public services are clear to others.

“It is far less clear to those working in frontline services, the ones on whom effective implementation of ICT-enabled projects depends,” the report warns.

“Too often there is a tendency to skip over the ‘business case’, diving straight into a detailed technology specification without clarity about objectives. This can result in a project that is on time, on budget and works, but that does not realise the hoped-for benefits,” it adds.

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