Election campaigning, IT and shared services

Why are the elections so important to IT and shared services?

With the election campaigning in full swing, it’s interesting to consider how this affects IT. All the political parties are talking about efficiencies (which effectively means the same as budget cuts) and the current argument seems to be about where the cuts are to be made and how deep they need to be.

The main method of making savings, in the public sector at least, is merging organisations and introducing shared service models.

It seems obvious to me that if you have two adjoining local councils, then they could quite easily run a joint IT service; their business processes are likely to be identical, and their infrastructure and internal support requirements should be very similar too.

Obviously, this model can be applied to other central functions too, such as HR, finance, legal services, property etc. If the model was applied to all councils, NHS Trusts and government departments, it’s easy to see how significant savings could be made.

Interestingly, this is something that the banking sector is going through at the moment, as a result of recent mergers and acquisitions. (As much as I like a challenge, I’m glad I’m not CIO at Santander!)

On the face of it, this looks like bad news for IT staff, but I’m not so sure, since change programmes of this type need extensive IT input.

I do think that fewer operational staff will be needed once the mergers have completed, but I believe also that there will be more opportunities for project and programme managers, as well as business analysts.

I also think that there’s a place in IT for business partners. This role is common in HR, and I have seen one or two IT business partner postions advertised. Having a centralised support team means that IT teams will need to work harder at maintaining business relationships, and more outward-facing people will be needed.

Whatever happens in the election, the only safe assumption is that there will be change. Facilitating change is what modern IT is all about, and it’s up to IT leaders to be at the heart of this, drivng the agenda, not waiting for it to happen.