Your shout: Computer Weekly readers' have their say

Laptop procurement, project management, Prince 2, ID cards, flooding, recruitment.

KLM laptop strategy is not a workable IT policy

Nicholas Bishop, IS/IT manager UK, Volvo Construction

Nice article on the steps by KLM to provide users with the power to purchase and support their own laptops. What I find hard to understand is how they are going to save money. The IT department is still there, but now cannot centralise procurement to reduce costs as the "user" has the power of choice and will be purchasing the hardware.

Whose asset is it? If it is the user's, then any software has to be licensed to them, and again we lose the buying power and licensing power of the company. And who will make sure that all software is licensed, as "cracked" software is plentiful on the internet.

Some users are very IT literate, but these users are often the biggest overhead. Now they have their own laptops, where they are the administrators, they will be able to change all sorts of settings and cause all sorts of issues, and may even lose data. How will KLM standardise on the set-up of the laptops? The user owns the laptop, so how will KLM know which areas to back-up? Does the user have a C, D and H drive, or just a C drive?

It is a shame that some of these counter opinions were not mentioned, as this could spark a good debate on the way forward to minimise the IT overhead on supporting laptops. My department supports more than 300 laptops, and it is the biggest overhead I have.

On the surface this all sounds very good and very "forward thinking", but I have a feeling that KLM will be returning back to the normal method of managing laptops in the not too distant future.

Project managers need to have technical knowledge

Chetan Bhatt

I was initially sympathetic when reading Alan Smith's opinion piece about constrictive recruitment requirements. However, my sympathy drained away when he complained about project managers being expected to have knowledge of Java, C#, SQL and UML, etc, claiming this should not be necessary because, "As long as the manager has the capacity to understand the technical issues to the point where they can make informed decisions, then they should be able to fulfil their responsibilities."

In more than 20 years working in IT in several companies, I have served under dozens of project manager-type people, and I find that while the technically conversant ones may sometimes get too absorbed in the technology to think about delivery - a weakness that can be cured - the alternatives can be much worse.

Too often, however, the ideal conditions do not exist and project managers of the sort Smith advocates prove the adage that "a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing".

Prince2 needs to be tailored to be effective

John Edmonds

Alan Smith makes some excellent points in his article ( I share his astonishment that many organisations do not realise that a project manager's role is to manage, not do. The demand for "industry-specific experience" that he highlights is equally disturbing.

However, it is when Smith turns his attention to Prince2 that our opinions differ. Phrases like "rigid adherence to the dictates of Prince2" make me believe that there are many people out there who do not understand Prince2 and its application.

In my experience, organisations that understand the key principles of Prince2, and then determine to tailor the method in an intelligent and thoughtful way, do see successful project delivery. It is the tailoring rather than the rigid application of Prince2 that is the key.

Prince2 was never designed to be used in an "untailored" manner, and many organisations would do well to consider whether they are truly using the principles of the method, or are using Prince2 in name only.

Belgium can offer the UK a lesson on ID cards plan

Derek Rocholl

In response to David Lacey's "perils of ID management" blog posting, I think it is instructive to look outside of the UK for examples of how the technology envisaged for the UK ID cards scheme is being used, to get a better understanding of the potential value.

The situation in Belgium with the BelPic scheme is particularly interesting for a number of reasons, including:

● The high and increasing range of applications the card is used for in everyday life.

● The strong level of voluntary take-up by the population, with more than five million cards already issued and the whole population on course to have a card by 2009.

● The fact that the Belgians seem to see an effective and secure ID card scheme as helping to build trust between citizen and government, by helping people exercise greater control over the way their personal data is maintained and used.

It strikes me that if we were to apply some of these learnings to our own scheme, and embrace the opportunities presented by the technology, it would go some way towards addressing some of the legitimate concerns of the privacy lobby.

The importance of e-mail cannot not be overstated

Peter Bauer, Managing director, Mimecast

I read with interest Rebecca Thomson's article on the impact of the recent floods and the estimated 6,800 businesses that were affected at a cost of up to £170m in IT insurance claims.

I can only echo the author's views on the need for this to prompt companies, both small and large, to ensure that they have adequate insurance and business continuity plans in place. E-mail systems today are the single most important application in most businesses.

It is also the case that up to 60% of intellectual capital for the average business is held in e-mail communications and attachments, so it has truly become the lifeblood of most organisations.

Protecting your e-mail from disruption and ensuring continuity does not have to cost the earth. Software as a service means that it is within the grasp of the average SME. What is more, the cost of insurance premiums can also be decreased significantly by being able to demonstrate that you have systems in place to ensure that e-mail - and all the vital information contained therein - is able to continue to function even in the event of a disaster.

Another article in the same edition quoted a survey stating that only 24% of companies archive e-mail. Putting these two facts together indicates that for many businesses not having a viable e-mail strategy in place in the event of a disaster could have far-reaching and potentially ruinous consequences.

I hope, therefore, that your readers will take a hard look at the protection they have in place and not put it off for another rainy day.

Recruitment consultants exacerbate the skills gap

John Pether

I would like to put forward my experience of the IT market recently after reading the "Skills threat to UK competitiveness" article and the "Companies are failing to invest in raw IT graduates" letter.

After more than 15 years in commercial IT (and being made redundant seven times) I had to take work out of the IT sector. While I am trying to return to IT, I find the majority of the vacancies are controlled by agencies who look at the top line on my CV and immediately send a rejection e-mail because, for some reason, my 15 years of experience and learning are no longer valid or applicable. One "consultant" even told me that I could not manage a project because I was not Prince2 qualified.

There is no skills shortage, just a group of people who place themselves in between the job seekers and the companies who require the experienced and skilled staff.

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