Saturday, 13 November 2010

Life, Work, The Universe...... Panic in the County Hall

Panic in the County Hall 
Look out, listen can you hear it. 
Whitehall (got us) up against a wall. 
Up against the wall...

Well it's not so much panic as rising hysteria.  George Osborne's Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR) trickles down to me as a telephone call at lunchtime..... "Hello Mark, I don't want to to put you on the spot, BUT, how much money will your Online (self service) Widget  Project save over the next 5 years?" Tell me now, Now NOW!

"If current parameters and assumptions remain valid by the end of 5 years, then £40k per month over that period."

"Sooooo, one could say that in addition we are looking at cutting the organisation wide administration and stationery expenditure by 10%!"

"One could, but I never said that".......

In fact the Online Widget Project has struck an impasse. I need to purchase a processing module for the Widget software that will allow us to automate workflows across the organisation and make £40k per month savings. I negotiated with the suppliers to get £10k of development work thrown into the £30K package for free.

I have to go to committee, get the approval of the head of legal, head of finance, corporate director and finally have the project scored, rated and approved before I can go ahead.......two months have gone by, £80K potential savings plus vicarious efficiency benefits lost and the suppliers getting tetchy whilst this process drags on........ I have to laugh at the mountains of red tape I have to go through to be able to reduce the red tape.

I can't help but find it all a farce. I'm not surprised managers find it easier to simply topslice the headcount by x percent, leaving behind all the inefficiencies and inconsistencies in the system......smoke and mirrors, smoke and mirrors for the press and public. Really, don't get me started!

Meanwhile someone at work must have read the blog and got confused about the type of strategy I'm interested in as this week I'm asked to deliver a strategy for an enterprise wide solution in just 2 days. From the moment I'm up in the morning to stepping off the train at home, my brain is whirring, leaving me exhausted by evening. I also have a sneaking feeling that the person requesting the strategy will pass it off as their work - a lot of that going on right now.

Despite being knackered by Friday, I end the week satisfied  with myself. Writing a new Project Brief, including scope, objectives, communications plan and risk register in a single day. Oh if only it were that simple.....6 months of  googling, telephone calls, visits to other organisations, teeth pulling workshops; investigating processes, procedures, policies, legislation, kickbacks due to organisational culture, before I'm able to sit down and bring it all together in one day.

However, after all that, if you want Online (self service) Widgets, I'm your man.



  1. Take redundancy and come back as a consultant to implement your master plan - this is called eating your cake and everyone else's ;)

    Good luck.

  2. I am quite sure 'self service' will result in additional 'necessary' training courses before the unwashed user masses become self aware and fully utilise said application :D Either way consultants will need to be hired...

  3. "I also have a sneaking feeling that the person requesting the strategy will pass it off as their work - a lot of that going on right now."

    If it succeeds you won't be invited to the meeting where your "supervisor" takes credit. If it fails you will be summoned and chastised for operating like a rogue agent. I just love how administrators have turned the work place into the opening scene of Mission Impossible.

  4. Oh Mark I am Soooo sorry.

    Been their, done that, I have the T-shirt to prove it.

    Reading about your company reminds me why I am happy to work for far less $$$ doing what I love.

  5. Sometimes I'm happy that I'm in the office instead of trying to make it all work.

    You are a man of great fortitude, my friend.