By Steve Kelman

Blog archive

The Lectern: More thoughts on a British IT system that works

I’m still poking around looking at the British Ministry of Defence’s up-and-running tri-service personnel system, which I'll be using as a case study for the classroom at the Kennedy School.


One of the features of the development of the system is the conscious efforts at partnership between the government and the vendor, EDS. These days – harking back to the unproductive, bad old days of the 1980s' procurement environment – partnership between vendor and customer has become something of a dirty word, suggesting the government being taken advantage of by rapacious contractors. I will be writing an FCW column shortly on what I’ve learned about how partnership helps the government from looking at this case, and hope to use the column and this blog to get a dialogue going on this important issue.


Another feature of this project that is very obvious is that the project has actually walked the talk of seeking to save money by using commercial off-the-shelf solutions and by doing business process reengineering to keep custom modifications to a minimum. The services spent over a year on this project working to “harmonize and simplify” their divergent personnel rules and processes and adapt them to COTS. They weren’t completely successful, but they did keep the custom code down to about 5 percent of the lines of the COTS code, which isn’t bad.


On another subject, I had a (mostly) failed series of Chinese adventures in London Friday night. Saw ads in the Thursday paper for Lust/Caution -- the steamy new movie, set in Shanghai in the 1930s, directed by the Taiwanese director Ang Lee (who directed Brokeback Mountain), playing in London theaters. I had hoped to see it when I returned to London. Checked with the concierge at the hotel, and basically it had stopped playing everywhere as of Friday! Not sure whether it's just been around for a long time or whether it was a failure.


So I walked over from my hotel to my favorite Chinese restaurant in London, Aroma. I discovered it 5 years ago through a very favorable review in the Financial Times. However, it has almost always been empty, and every time I go there, I'm afraid it will have closed. This time I walked there and found out -- it had closed! Eventually found another Chinese restaurant and ate "crispy aromatic duck," a big Chinese favorite in London, similar but not identical to Peking Duck.

Posted by Steve Kelman on Jan 29, 2008 at 12:09 PM


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