Weblog archive for April 2005

12th April 2005

"Staff Problems Add to CSA Delays"

The original flow chart was: we have new rules, we will need a new system, then we will have new processes. That is totally backwards. It should be: we have new rules, therefore we need new processes, therefore we need technology to support those processes. 

IT professional working on the agency's systems

... everyone hates everyone else in the building. It seems they either blame each other for errors or assume everyone else has an easier job than they do. 

Quote from the report

It must be noted that the reasons for disliking phone contact are mostly linked to the unpredictability of the call and the emotional drain of dealing with many distressed parents, rather than the computer software. 

Quote from the report

A report, available for download in PDF form (see links below), identifies serious failings in the CSA when dealing with the New Scheme, and trying to handle problems with its new computer system. There is evidence of "playing management games" and, frankly, attempting to cover-up the scale of the tasks and the seriousness of the problems.

Computer Weekly, which discovered this report and analysed it, discusses the report "Child Support Reform: The views and experiences of CSA staff and new clients":

"A report ... on the views and experiences of CSA staff and managers has provided graphic details of the problems at the agency. It shows that plans to simplify the calculation of claims and payments were enacted as an IT scheme, rather than an exercise in change management. It details the resulting difficulties and revealed that internal communications about the project were regarded as "intended to encourage optimism rather than inform"....

"The report draws attention to concerns among staff about the lack of consultation over the CSA's reforms and design of the systems. It also confirmed what IT staff on the project have said for more than a year: that ministers are wrong to blame only the technology for the agency's problems....

"The report says, "As a result information is moving more slowly than it might and is being filtered as it passes between levels." Each grade of manager was "sceptical of the level of understanding of those above." Some higher executive officers and upwards were putting on a "positive front." One told the report's authors that above a certain managerial level executives were "painting the roses red". "Even when staff were in a position to talk to someone who might listen, they felt stifled by concerns from above about what they might say. In one office we were told that staff were coached before talking to senior visitors...""

Despite all these problems, ministers have continued to focus on problems with the IT and telephony systems as the only relevant causes of the agency's failures.
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