As I write, the petition to demand the UK government reviews it’s outdated I.T. project processes has been going for a week and has 193 signatures.
Am I disappointed? Far from it. The signatories list reads like a who’s who of people in the UK who care about software. Among the countless thought leaders, authors, conference speakers and influential bloggers, signatories includes:
- Steve Freeman, winner of the Gordon Pask award and author
- Rachel Davies, director of the Agile Alliance and author
- Karl Scotland, founder member of the Lean Software and Systems Consortium.
- Mike Hill, conference chair for SPA
- Giovanni Asproni, conference chair for ACCU
- Keith Braithwaite, conference chair for XPDay
Lets face it, this is never going to be a populist campaign. The simple matter is no one else is going to tell our government that there’s a more effective way to manage software*. It’s certainly not in the interests of people like BT and Siemens to stop signing multi-million pound contracts and I’ve no doubt there are very few people working in an advisory manner to the government on I.T. strategies who are particularly aware or interested in the now well-established and highly successful Agile umbrella of ways to build effective software, both on time and on budget.
So it’s up to us to highlight this situation. No one else is going to do it for us. As member of the software development community in the UK, your money is not going towards hospitals or schools, your money is being wasted on failed I.T. projects and will continue to be wasted** until our government stops naively signing off massive contracts for hugely optimistic and unrealistic projects.
I’m calling on everyone involved in software development in this country to do more to try and raise the issue to the level of visibility it deserves:
- Sign the petition if you haven’t done so already
- Write to your MP informing them about the petition and personally demanding a review. I’ve written a sample letter here which you can use as a template, but you should try to use your own words as much as possible otherwise it’s likely they will ignore it. Some more tips are available here.
- Blog about the petition. Tell people to sign it and email their MP and blog about it too. Twitter is great but blogging is better.
Nothing is going to change unless you get involved and demand your hard earned cash is better spent.
* An open letter was written to the Government by a bunch of academics about the problems with the NHS I.T. project, but was woefully misguided asking to see, among others, documents showing the “detailed design” and “technical architecture” for what must be the most idealistically naive and over-ambitious software project ever undertaken.
**According to IT Jobs Watch the average salary for a developer in the UK is Â£37,000 which means that, on average, they will contribute around Â£6,000 per year in tax. We’ll also say for the sake of argument that our average Joe works 40 years in his/her lifetime so in total he/she will pay Â£240,000 in tax. It would take 100,000 developer lifetimes to accrue the estimated Â£26 billion that has been wasted so far on failed Government I.T. projects.