Mar 2, 2011
I know. I’ve gone on about this before. The URL http://hmrc.gov.uk doesn’t work. It’s a very small thing, a very minor impediment to using the site. But for me and probably many others it is a glitch that we trip over again and again when doing routine things like paying our VAT. A few seconds bother, going back to put in the “www”, multiplied by many repetitions, is actually worth fixing.
And it would take moments to fix.
It’s not a big disaster in government technology terms, by any means. But it’s a useful indicator. Of flexibility, of attitude, and dare I say it, of agility.
Here’s an amusing comparison. A few weeks back I was having a look at the great works of one of our big IT supply companies, Cap Gemini. To be precise, at their website’s information about their services to, funnily enough, HMRC. But the link on their site to that content was broken. Didn’t look great. Much like the HMRC URL.
I tweeted about it. They picked it up, just based on the words “Cap Gemini” (good monitoring, there, well done). And within hours they’d fixed it and tweeted me to let me know (good closure, 10/10 all round).
I replied, asking when they’d be so prompt about sorting out the HMRC URL so it didn’t look quite so, well, amateurish, considering all those millions spent on the project. (Especially since they showed alarming eagerness in making sure their own online wares didn’t look shabby.)
They said they’d get back to me.
I’m still waiting.
So, we’ll be hearing about agility tonight, about short, sharp, focused delivery to make things that actually work, at the launch of a new report on the way forward for technology in government.
I’d be a lot more convinced about the substance behind this if, say, by the time I walked into the Institute for Government this afternoon that URL issue had just been fixed.
Go on, rise to the challenge. Make it so. If you can.
(Because if you can’t do a little thing like that..?)
Paul Clarke has done a lot of things over the years, on client and supplier side, where public services meet technology. He’s currently working with dxw.com, who specialise in Agile development. Get in touch if you’d like to know more, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Update: 12 July 2011
Update: 17 August 2011
STOP THE CLOCK!
Or TEAR UP THE CALENDAR, more like…
It’s done. It redirects. Now–time for that FOI on how much it all cost, hehehe.
(Would I be so cruel?)