Doing the obvious thing is not something that always comes naturally. Hindsight is a marvellous thing. If I could bottle it, I would be a rich and carefree man. However, I can’t, and so often I sit there afterwards thinking ‘Why didn’t I do this earlier?’.
For example, it was my youngest’s 6th birthday this week, and we said he could have a friend over for tea. One friend turned into two, and then three. At this point we should have thought, ‘let’s outsource this’ and gone to a pizza emporium or something. But no, we thought we could handle it. It started at 3.30, and we managed to get the little blighters out at about 6.30. Let me say now, they weren’t badly behaved or evil in a Damien-from-the-Omen sort of way . They were 6, excited, and I had mistakenly left an unguarded bowl of sweets which they proceeded to empty. Consequently by 5.15 I was hiding in the bathroom, quivering with terror, partially deaf, and worrying for my beloved collection of Police Academy DVD’s.* After the dear children had departed, my wife crawled out from under a pile of discarded wrapping paper, smudged with birthday cake and jelly and said ‘Why didn’t we go to Frankie and Benny’s?’
And in a tenuous segue that would make the Today programme blush, this leads me to the announcement that Local Authorities can now use their GCSX connections to connect to N3, and NHS organisations their N3 to connect to Local Authorities. In the light of the inbound train marked ‘PSN’ this makes a huge amount of sense. Both connections require secure connectivity, policies and procedures, and many organisations have gone through the mill twice to get both connections up and running to enable shared services and data sharing. But the announcement led me to ask some questions:
Why couldn’t have the two HMG Departments concerned have talked to each other at the start of their programmes?
Why have we spent the last few years messing about paying CLAS consultants twice?
(In a slightly hysterical oh-hell-the-kids-have-eaten-all-the-sweets tone) Why wasn’t this done before?
One of the things that should be applauded about the CSR is that it is forcing people to talk to each other, and driving innovation. But for goodness sake, why on earth has this N3/GCSX join-up taken so long? It’s not like one network needed Banyan Vines and the other Netware was it?** The impending announcement by the Cabinet Office on the ICT Strategy cannot come soon enough, if, and only if, it does more of this kind of thing. In hindsight, someone should have made the connection (haha) at the start of these projects and saved us all time and money.
In conclusion, the CSR and the Strategy document offer the same outcome as the learning from my son’s party. We’ve done it this way in the past and it cost too much. Let’s think a bit more about things next time and chose a better approach.
*Look. I know they are rubbish. You know they are rubbish. But if the podium scene or the motorbike/horse scene in the first one doesn’t reduce you to helpless giggles then, well, I’m not sure we’d ever really get on
** For those of you under 35, this is how computers talked to each other when I was still young, silky and looked great in tight jeans. Sadly none of these statements are true anymore