The BBC should have known the risks

People often don’t believe me when I tell them that the risk of project failure and team restructures can be as high as 4 in 10 and for IT projects it’s even higher at 9 out of 10.

The costs of such failure was illustrated today when The BBC reported that it’s abandoning the Digital Media Initiative at a cost of £98 million. The project was a mission critical part of transforming the way staff shared and used video and was seen as an IMPORTANT part of the BBC’s move to Salford.

90% risk of failure
Lord Hall said “Ambitious technology projects like this always carry a risk of failure”
In my experience IT projects often fail, in part, because management find it difficult to monitor progress and smokescreens are put up by the project team to management in order to disguise problems until it’s too late. It’s why I always recommend a neutral party to monitor progress and report to senior management. It may be uncomfortable for the IT team but if handled correctly can save huge amounts of money. Obviously the BBC failed to take this precaution.

Similar IT project failures have been experienced by the NHS and the Government. Doubtless there will be howls of protests and accusations that the BBC has wasted taxpayers money. Investigations and reports will follow adding further to the overall cost (though not attached to it but it’ll keep another group of highly paid people occupied for a year or so!)

Future problems
My main concern is that the true cost of the failure of this project is the knock on effect for plans and restructure that might, as a result, have to be abandoned. This causes loss of morale, additional work and delays in achieving mission critical results. In addition it may also cause the resignation and restructure of various teams which will introduce further risks of failure.

If only they had asked me before they began!

No comments

Do qualifications mean employability?

Have you noticed there’s a lot of discussion from employers on how eduction is failing to provide people with the skills and knowledge needed. IT companies complain that graduates can’t understand background programmes, Senior executives despair that new hires don’t know how to communicate, employers shake their heads at qualifications that don’t provide the skills for work that employers are seeking.

Mission Critical opportunities being lost
Yesterday I was contacted by a CEO who told me that a “new hire” he had employed last year “wasn’t working out”. It seemed that the qualification and some experience hadn’t given the new hire the skills the job required and mission critical opportunities were being lost. 

What to do?
Larger companies are sponsoring education programmes to ensure they are
able to hire the skills they need but smaller businesses can’t afford to
do that. So what to do?
When recruiting it’s worth investigating the content and syllabus of qualifications if they are critical to the job skills. Then test them. If computer skills are required test them as part of the interview process. If communication or management skills are required for the job then these too can be tested at the interview stage.

Where skills are being recruited it’s a matter of “Employer be aware”

No comments

Talent shortage to become critical

You would think that the topics of talent shortage and managing employees productivity were two business issues. I’ve had a few conversations with senior Directors bemoaning the shortage of talent, particularly in IT, banking and technology and both have been linked to how to manage employee productivity.

The Talent Crunch
Most people would think that with the financial crisis that finding good talent would be easy, but in fact this isn’t the case for many specialist areas. Indeed the Manpower Group report that a third of companies report difficulties in finding good talent. There is a talent crunch in India, where it’s reported that sixty seven percent of companies are unable to find the people they need. In Brazil the figure is thirty four percent and the shortage is pushing up wages and inflation.

The skills shortages in these countries is likely to have an affect on our own talent pool and attract our own talent towards high salaries and a better style of living than can be gained within Europe or the USA. This will be true even of bankers who see career progression in terms of London and New York.

Managing Employee productivity
If most businesses can’t find all the talent that it requires, or afford it when it can, then it needs to invest some time and money to improve the productivity of its existing talent. That’s the reason that people have been asking me how to measure, manage and improve their people’s performance and productivity.

It’s been interesting that in the mind of the Directors I’ve spoken to that they seem to have a vision of a “One size fits all” solution. The problem is that there isn’t a one size fits all nor is there an immediate solution to making internal talent more productive. Different strategies need to be employed for salespeople as opposed to IT,  Senior staff as opposed to Non-Executive Directors and so on. In the long-run, however, it might be the only viable and affordable solution. 

No comments

Is it OK to search the internet for information on job candidates?

A couple of people have asked me recently if it’s acceptable to search the internet for information on potential job candidates.

Information on the public platform
I think that it’s inevitable that potential recruiters will search the internet for details of their candidates. The information is in the public platform and often uploaded by the individual themselves. As such I think that it’s a good indication of personality, behaviour and the lifestyle of a potential candidate.

It would also give an indication of the candidate’s ability to use IT and to utilise correct grammar and good design. The hiring company then have another source of informationand on the candidate.

Reader’s Prejudices
The main problem, I think, is potentially the “prejudices” of the person reading the material. Pictures of the candidate drinking at parties or on holiday and might be mininterpreted. I have heard of candidates that have lost out on jobs as a result and this must be an extension of the “Horns & Halo effect” we are all used to in the interview process.

Andrew Lloyd Webber
What is interesting is those sites that are professionally managed for people. Let’s give an example. Andrew Lloyd Webber admits to not answering email, nor having a mobile phone nor, it seems, has the ability to open up a computer (See Piers Morgan’s interview on ITV) yet he has a superb website with updates on him, his work and his music. Obviously managed by others and very well it is too.

The question I have here is:
If a bad site produced by the job holder could be destructive in gaining a job, would paying someone to manage your profile on-line give someone an “unfair advantage” in the job selection stakes even if they were IT illiterate?

No comments