Will ‘common components’ reduce IT spending?

Sharing IT components is being touted as a solution to budget constraints, but Eric Wright warns that businesses need more than a strategy to reduce IT spending.

The shared service model is increasingly being used to control public sector spending.  Now, the Government Digital Service (GDS) says that using ‘common platform components’ is the next logical step in the battle to reduce IT spending within the public sector.

In its report, GDS says that by using components such as the gov.uk Verify system – which identifies people through a central database so that councils don’t need to build dedicated ID login systems – councils could collectively save £500 million every year.

By sharing common tools in this fashion, councils will be able to allocate more resources to innovating and customising services to suit its constituents.  Such an approach would also allow councils to negotiate better prices when sourcing suppliers for these large-scale projects according to the report.

Eric Wright - managing director, Richmond Systems

Eric Wright - managing director, Richmond Systems

Easier said than done
This shared components approach clearly has merit.  However, while the concept of sharing components and services is simple to explain and understand, putting it into practice is much more difficult. 

There are many factors that must be considered before the shared approach can work.  The obvious problems are technical.  Shared components and services must be integrated, personalised and intelligently supported if they are to help rather than hinder IT performance.

However, the bigger challenge is often less to do with technology, and more to do with the people tasked with managing it.  Most businesses possess the know-how needed to manage the technical aspects of these projects. The trick is finding the right people and ensuring they work effectively together.

This is why I believe IT is increasingly becoming a people business.  Blending the personalities and knowledge needed to make technology work is a great skill which has been larger overlooked during the history of corporate technology.  Business Relationship Management (BRM) is growing in stature because it recognises that people and the way they blend are critical components in a successful IT project.

We’ve worked on literally hundreds of IT projects and I can guarantee that they work because of the skill and dedication of those people involved.  When communication breaks down and barriers go up, this is when projects fail.

Whether you set out to reduce IT spending, or deliver progressive digital transformation, the key has always been – and will always be – people.