I recently read an interesting article about how the UK police have set up an IT company, which has the remit to drive down IT cost whilst increasing IT innovation. This sounds sensible at first glance—after all, who wouldn’t want to drive down the cost of IT, right? Well, I think they’re missing something far more fundamental.
So often organizations focus on implementing IT as cheaply as possible and it appears that this is the objective of the UK Police Force. Whilst value for money is always important, a more important question should be “What problem are you trying to solve?” Unless you fully explore the problem, you’ll have no idea of whether IT is the best solution.
New IT isn’t always the most appropriate way to solve a problem. The UK police force should know this; they recently spent £71 million on blackberry devices and achieved a woeful return on their investment. They had hoped to save £125 million by enabling officers to complete routine paperwork whilst out on the street. It appears they had not fully understood the business problem, and as a result saved only £600,000 (a fraction of the implementation cost), with some police officers reporting that the devices meant that they had to spend more time on administration. A real own-goal!