Charlie and I take half a day out to visit our neighbours, Bogshire County County, with whom it has been suggested we might collaborate on the development of a new social care system. We already have our in-house creation, which we recognise is, as the estate agents put it, in need of some refurbishment.
They use a leading brand application, which we know to be cumbersome, expensive and unreliable. They told us it was the best thing since sliced disc partitioning and suggested they host it for our users. We said the L word and they went all pale and started on about how Microshaft was the only solution to global warming and what a nice man Bill Grates was to give such a lot of his hard-earned money to poor Africans and Cambridge dons and such. We smiled politely and left before they offered us another cup of their disgusting machine coffee.
Decided we have to go it alone with social care. The remaining question is whether or not to involve the users in the redesign. Easy answer - no. Any disgusted business analyst out there who finds this approach unacceptable professionally is welcome to spend a hour or so talking systems and process to a random selection of our social workers. Herding cats is child's play by comparison.
Charlie is having trouble finding anyone prepared to lead the social care project. Not surprising really. They know that taking it on is not just career suicide, it also entails certain physiological, morale and well-being destruction. I have seen middle-aged IT workers weep after just half an hour in a meeting with social care staff.
Interview contractors for the social care project manager post. Good candidates all of them. Very experienced project managers with good references and a dewy-eyed conceit that working for the first time in this important social area will be an opportunity for them to do something really worthwhile. Lambs to the slaughter in fact.
After hearing that, most unexpectedly, Barkingmad and Dagnamit won the public sector section of the Best Places to Work in IT Awards last year, we decide to put in our own application this time.
Okay, Bogcaster IT department has a higher suicide rate than Strangeways, a worse industrial-injury rate than long-line fishing, and more people on Prozac than the staff of an inner-city comprehensive, but hey, we do have a nice new water cooler and a work-life balance policy statement.