This is a story (fake news) that I wrote for segfault in 2000. It was published, but sadly the site has been down now for a long time due to hardware failure and lack of any backups. Keep checking segfault.org as you never know . . . .
UK E-envoy Announces Radical Shake-up
In a revolutionary move, the UK Government's new e-envoy Mr Andrew Pinder, is about to announce the result of a huge two and a half week study into past and future I.T. projects and spending plans. Insider sources, close to ministers, who carried out the study at Neasden Polytechnic (London UK), are believed to have made some remarkable discoveries.
They found that, as predicted by Fred Brooks in his seminal work "The Mythical Man Month", all IT projects run over budget and are always hugely late. Figures average around 834% in cost overruns, with some jobs being so late that they are never fully implemented, are typical for the public sector. Private sector projects have similar outcomes but the figures are much more difficult to substantiate due to poorer record keeping, better accounting and ensuring that the truth is hidden from the Company Directors.
More recent PFI projects (Private Finance Initiatives) will obviously go the same way, but at least the Government does not have to take the whole blame.
In a radical departure from the past, as part of the new "Joined-up Government" approach, the study has a whole new set of guidelines for all Government departments, some of which are :-
- Don't sign any deals with any suppliers, just order some kit, get it installed, and let local workers sort out the mess. This is what happens anyway so you might as well plan accordingly. There is always some spotty oik who knows how to get the printer to work and cheat your copy of Doom up to the third level - use him well, he comes very cheap as he is already on the payroll.
- Plan to replace your hardware when it breaks (not fix it, not have a service contract), and in any case at least every 2 to 3 years. This way you spread the cost evenly, and can't go over budget. Let each office handle their own kit. Hardware is very cheap now - try and get grey imports as they are the cheapest and will have been made in the same factory as all the branded, high price, kit.
- Give your old hardware to the people in the office - if they want it they will have to look after it.
- Always use standard desktop office applications (Word processors, spreadsheets etc) don't try and customise. If you need a database application, generate it locally in the office - they know what they want now, not what they might need in 5 years, ensuring it will work now, work well, and work quickly.
- Encourage the KISS approach (Keep It Simple Stupid) i.e. free distribution of post-it notes, pens, paperclips, pads. These kind of things usually get stolen for their kids schoolwork but it would be better to use them in the office instead of that £2000 laptop computer to write memos and take phone messages etc. The paperless office is a fantasy, and will be for the foreseeable future.
- Use "Open Source" software as much as possible - again every department now has people running Linux/BSD at home, promote them in charge of the departmental servers and then see how many virus alerts and reboots you get. No one allows his home Linux machine to propagate malicious code. With the added bonus of being part of the Open Source community, your workers will have a stake in getting it right, getting the job done, and being able to share their knowledge with others.
A spokesman from the DTI (Department for Trade and Industry) said that he could not confirm the existence of such a report, but he did confirm that a recent invitation extended to the UK Prime Minister Mr Tony Blair, to visit Redmond VA (USA) had been declined due to "pressure of work".
The report is due to be leaked to the satirical magazine "Private Eye" during the summer recess as part of a "softening up" process of the existing entrenched position of some ministers.
(c) RG 2000
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