With the Treasury clamping down hard on the use of management consultants in
large central government deals, and budget belts being severely tightened, the
government’s microscope is now firmly fixed on IT outsourcing deals.
It doesn’t help that some of the biggest IT outsourcing contracts in
Whitehall history have been branded ‘failures’ and that the firms involved have
had to battle for the last few years to shrug off tarnished reputations.
Of course, there are a couple of famous examples that now serve to warn
current and future deals of the painful loss of revenue and personnel, as well
as reputations, that an IT outsourcing ‘glitch’ can cause.
Remember EDS’ traumatic time with the Child Support Agency’s £456m computer
system, or perhaps the Department of Work and Pensions’ PC operating system
upgrade that disabled host access to a third of its 80,000 PCs?
These examples still linger in the minds of many a trembling consultant, and
hopefully they can be learned from. But what is the lesson?
According to recent research it is a simple one – testing.
So should the industry be hiring more testing specialists or even outsourcing
its services to specialised testing teams? The latter makes little sense as many
firms have the expertise available within their own organisations.
As we have seen in the past, a simple check could have made all the
difference. But testing should not merely be seen as a tick box. It is about the
verification of a system that can bring benefits to the client and should be the
operational heartbeat at the centre of the project.
Despite tightening budgets, stringent deadlines and constant pressure from
all sides, testing should never take a backseat.
Whatever the solution, it seems that while consultants love nothing better
than change and transformation, it is perhaps time to step back, take stock and
manage a change in individual testing procedures.
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