Archive for the ‘management’ Category

Our Software Industry needs to step up to the crease and tell the world that we can write code

In business, Culture, management, software, technology on November 30, 2011 at 11:10 pm

8 years ago I had a very embarrassing meeting. I laughed at a major global company that had invested over $ 600 million in a shared system. It took 5 years for the companies representative to talk to me again.

I did not actually laugh initially. I did something much worse.

They explained what they had done, and I kept trying to understand how they could have taken so long and spent so much money, and they explained again and again, as I looked at them in complete disbelief.

I think they may have initially thought that I was impressed or astounded. They certainly thought that their system was amazing, a first of its kind, the best of the best etc. etc., and they had been jumping up and down shouting from the roof tops about its brilliance.

Eventually, I said “is that it, is that really all it does, its trivial” I was shocked. It was about 3 months effort for a competent developer on a decent platform. We had done something much much better 5 years before, and regarded it as nothing to boast about.

My shock showed. They were affronted and angry. I laughed from embarrassment, and was promptly shown the door.

It has taken a very long time to rebuild the relationship.

So it would be very nice, if other people could point out that the UK software industry does create great things, and that when someone from another culture says theirs is “Amazing” and we say that we have created something that is barely adequate. Our barely adequate may only be 100 or 1,000x better than their Amazing world beater.


The Government Needs to Answer back

In business, Cloud, contract management, ecommerce, eprocurement, management, p2p, software, source to pay, technology on November 28, 2011 at 9:50 pm

One of our more noisy US colleagues recently stated that the UK Government needs to do more in the cloud.  Given our experience the UK Government is doing lots in the cloud, they are just not doing it with our US colleague.
So I thought it would be helpful to provide a few examples of what the UK Government is doing in the cloud with my company @UK PLC a single UK cloud provider.
The major projects so far this year are as follows:-

  • February this year the National National Audit OfficeAudit office used our cloud services for an in depth analysis of NHS GeM Online Store for HE and FEprocurement (£ 500 million savings identified)
  •  August go live of the worlds first nationwide B2B card based marketplace for all UK Universities and Colleges
  • September launch of nationwide schools marketplace with all items carbon neutral voluntarily offset  by NHS Sustainable Development Unitthe suppliers as part of a drive for savings and sustainability(another world first).
  • September start of data collection for the NHS Sustainable Development UnitNHS carbon footprint project another world first looking at the carbon footprint of all the items purchased by the NHS.

Last year Richard Benyon the Minister for the Natural Environment launched our Green Marketplace and we passed the £ 100 billion of spend Analysed. We have users from every single major public sector body on our system, which we would suggest is a reasonable level of engagement in the cloud for a single supplier sample, and that our Government is doing interesting and innovative things.

MBA Oath – Great Idea shame about the MBA programs

In business, management, mba on October 31, 2009 at 8:55 am

My thoughts on a new oath for MBA graduates (modelled on the hippocratic oath for medical doctors) that has been ‘released’ – in hopes of encourgaing our future business leaders to be able to make enterprises more accountable, honest and a generally better force for good…:


I think that it is a great idea, my problem is with the MBA program.

There are a quite a few problems with management, but unfortunately most MBA programs (I just checked the Harvard MBA syllabus), still do not address the core issue.

A culture that focuses on doing “the work” better, with a real understanding of statistical quality control, so that management understands the reasons for any issue and what is the responsibility of management and the process and what is the responsibility of the worker.

Deeming’s criticism that that the MBA with the bag of tricks is unable to improve the process, and will make things worse, but can buy and sell the business is still the case.

There are examples such as Toyota Production System, Lean and 6 Sigma that look at how to make processes better, and these should be covered in the MBA syllabus.

There are two key issues in business.

  1. Creating the right thing
  2. Doing it well

The Harvard MBA Course has bits about managing scientific advance, and entrepreneurship. It may identify how to do a me to business, since “me to” business is the safest.

There is an established market, and you have a way of improving, quality, cost, sales, speed, or some other factor that will provide you with an advantage. It helps to have a good understanding of the market, but an outsider may be have some useful insights.

New markets are created by specialists and visionaries that understand the area. e.g. Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, HP, Ford, Sony, Toyota Not by MBA’s.

It is important that MBA’s understand their role in the organisation, which is to help grow and improve, and develop technical leadership, and it would be helpful if there was more emphasis on the practical tools required rather than the financial tools, since most organisations already have a finance director.

If an organisation is going to do really well it needs to be run by people that really understand the organisation, and its area of business. Sadly MBA’s are too often part of the job hopping CEO mentality, that is detrimental to progress.

When Harvard first introduced the MBA course it was for experienced business professionals that understand a business, and want to professionalise their management skills.  This is still a valid path, unfortunately it is now more often an immediate follow on to a degree.  e.g. You can now go straight into a Harvard MBA, though the preference is 2-5 years experience.  However you have to commit to a 2 year course, which is going to be difficult if not impossible for anyone that has progressed beyond there initial training and is now active in their career.

This is why their is a conflict between the requirement to have people that understand the business and how to improve the core of the business running the business and the MBA program which takes people that are not yet ready to run the business and gives them tools that are not appropriate to improving the business along with a belief that they should run the business.