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BSF Thread, News: More than 11m 'wasted' on consultants in United Kingdom (UK) Specific Forums; Originally Posted by Andrew_C There is a fundamental aversion in Manglement to making a decision of any sort. If you ...
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    GrumbleDook's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Andrew_C View Post
    There is a fundamental aversion in Manglement to making a decision of any sort. If you get a consultant in, when it all goes wrong you can blame them.
    Nope ... this *is* a type of management. Blame management

    An open question here then ... how does someone who is not at the chalk face ensure that they keep up to speed on the needs of those *at* the chalk-face without dipping back in every 6 months?

    As much as I agree that the specialist practitioner is a good model (and one I am working on around here) there has to be someone in the office, making decisions and giving advice. I just want to see what options people think there could be.

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    Private Eye has something on the same PAC stuff this week (it's taken a few shots at BSF now). PE doesn't limit their report to the consultant bit and includes:

    "Waste on the program so far includes an average 10m bill to arrange and design each project and 20m annual central running cost at PfS and in Whitehall. All of which is manna for the consultants: 11m from PfS alone up to last March (plus unknown amounts from the local education partnerships).
    ..

    Partnerships UK, whose owners include Barclays, Serco, Prudential and other financiers, takes a 15% return on the investment it puts into the local education partnerships via its part-ownership of PfS. The MPs said this was 'too much' given that the body is supposed to have a 'public sector mission'...
    ..
    Despite the damning PAC verdict, PfS continues to expand. Just five days later schools minister Vernon Coaker announced that all school building work, including on primary schools, would henceforth be run by the agency. Once again nothing succeeds like failure"

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    torledo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Andrew_C View Post
    There is a fundamental aversion in Manglement to making a decision of any sort. If you get a consultant in, when it all goes wrong you can blame them.
    Yes, but blame them for doing what exactly. OR equally blame for not doing what exactly ?

    After reading the article from the OP, i am suprisingly enough, none the wiser as to what these consultants were doing in any shape or form, not even examples of the type of roles.

    So once again consultant is used as a catch all term. Or in this case they are referred to as advisers, but again advising on what ? How do you even know the advice your paying for is relevant for that project or whether the success of the consultant is not so much in what they say but how they say it and sell it -

    It's perceived that successful projects are highly dependant on methodology's and processes [however convaluted] becuase they indicate a level of expertise, inspire confidence and tick the all important box for blame management/avoidance.

    I think from the experience of getting outside expertise organisations have began to adopt more formal methods for managing and undertaking assignments and projects. But then the consultancy profession is well advanced of that, and selling the key skills that you must have but that you can't afford in-house and don't have enough time to learn up on [sales pitch].

    OR you've not got the hours of project lifecycle experience in house. Even then some projects require working across different specialist providers in which case it's a meeting of various areas of expertise and managing that happy co-existence. That's where the PM consultants come in presumably.

    To me expertise/consultancy is about getting specialist knowledge when you need it, and sometimes you do need it. But just how much of it is froth and the claims made about effectiveness and importance of the use of certain types of expertise is spin.

    No point in railing entirely against the prevalent use of consultants. Over time projects that get off to a bad start eventually return a benefit, whether it's justifiable based on the disruption and costs along the way comes out in assessment/audit i suppose.

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    Quote Originally Posted by GrumbleDook View Post
    An open question here then ... how does someone who is not at the chalk face ensure that they keep up to speed on the needs of those *at* the chalk-face without dipping back in every 6 months?
    Simply put - they can't. This is why people on the chalk face should be the ones who are asked for advice by manglement. IMHO.

    Butuz

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    torledo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Butuz View Post
    Simply put - they can't. This is why people on the chalk face should be the ones who are asked for advice by manglement. IMHO.

    Butuz
    we had a manager who had been a technical manager years ago, but i think age and managerial and reporting responsibilities meant he was somewhat behind many of the technical aspects of the IT infrastructure and ongoing projects, he relied very heavily on senior IT technical staff to provide the necessary information for him to relay to stakeholders and the like.

    He was the conduit between us and the outside world - he had the project management and people skills through vast experience but he definitely wasn't a nuts and bolts person because i think he'd seen so much technological change during his career and he'd left the technical aspects to thers some time ago....one eye was definitely on retirement, but he was also forced to place a lot of trust and reliance on the technical staff below him.

    In such a situation there is a reciprocal need for each other to succeed. A bit of you scratch my back i'll make your life a lot easier. Once you understand how team members benefit each other, it becomes less important how much a manager knows, but how much they can help.....and it helps if that help is returned by making the managers' life easier and making them look good at the boardroom table.

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    Quote Originally Posted by GrumbleDook View Post
    An open question here then ... how does someone who is not at the chalk face ensure that they keep up to speed on the needs of those *at* the chalk-face without dipping back in every 6 months?
    As I said in other post some consultants are worth the money as they allow things that the parties involved with BSF disagree on to be worked out and compromise found this is because they are a neutral party looking with fresh eyes not clouded by local politics and vested interested (don't get me started on how much money is wasted on that). They also allow comparisons to be made as to are we "keeping up with the Jones" because they have worked on other BSF projects and so price comparison can be made.

    However I think that this could be achieved by using the Advanced Skill Teacher Model. Where an expert teacher gets more money and greater responsibility by being released a day a week to work with other schools. This would be ideal as there are now several education authorities who have been through BSF they have staff that know the process and I sure given a suitable remuneration could advise others at a fraction of the cost. Lets face it we all give our "2p" worth for nothing and I'm sure an interesting model could be worked out releasing technical/network managers to act as part time consultants (assuming they haven't be bought up into a BSF company who wants to bid of course )

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    Quote Originally Posted by Butuz View Post
    Simply put - they can't. This is why people on the chalk face should be the ones who are asked for advice by manglement. IMHO.

    Butuz
    The problem with many managers & organisations is they cannot face asking subordinate staff for advice. They associate this with some form of 'weakness' in their organisation or skills and would rather pay for consultants because it looks 'good' and avoids exposing their perceived 'weakness'.

    I have worked in environments such as the one Torledo highlighted and I agree with him, they can work well because they are based upon a degree of mutual trust and recognition of strengths & weaknesses.

    As a Network Manager, there are many things that I can do that my technician colleagues cannot; equally well & increasingly so as time goes on, there are things that they can do that I cannot. I am content with this, because I can rely upon them. We work as a team.

    When I worked in industry, I used to hate being introduced to a new client by the account manager as 'our XYZ Expert'..... I always referred to myself as a specialist, not an expert. After many years in IT I have discovered the more I learn, the more I realise how little I know......

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