Why time is the vital ingredient

IT directors of pension providers have spent much of the past year working to prepare for the simplified pensions tax regime.

IT directors of pension providers have spent much of the past year working to prepare for the simplified pensions tax regime.

But the industry has been forced to work in the dark for much of that time, struggling with regulations that have been promised but not delivered by both HM Revenue and Customs and the Department for Work and Pensions.

Maybe if the government took the time to gain a better understanding of the kind of lead time that the private sector needs to ensure it runs its IT effectively, it would have a better record with its own technology projects.

The delays to key regulations, coupled with HMRC's inability to deliver a key online reporting service to pension scheme administrators, have forced firms to put resources into devising interim solutions to problems that should not have existed. It has also pushed them to put in place often expensive flexible staffing arrangements to cope with the short lead times required by the government when it does finally deliver.

All of these strategies may be familiar to those working on government IT projects, where resources have not always been handled effectively, but the fact remains that organisations and IT projects can be run more effectively when given the time and resources to make considered choices to try to get things right first time.

It is a lesson the government would do well to heed.


Ready for change

IT is nothing if it is not rigorous and methodical. That is the theory - it is what we tell the world outside and it is what we try to practice, often against the odds.

No other part of an organisation has to cope with such rapid change as the IT department. But it is less the speed of change of technology that is challenging than the fact that we have to facilitate every business development, every bright idea and every new corporate governance demand while driving down day-to-day running costs.

We have to do so while making it clear that the organisation as a whole, rather than the IT department in particular, owns the processes and their governance.

That is why, as our feature article on page 40 makes clear, ensuring your organisation has the right change management methodology in place is so crucial.

Read article: Headache for pension companies as delay in regulations has knock-on effect for IT

Read more on IT risk management