Feeds

BBC IT project to save £17.9m cost it £38.2m net

Slow handclaps for Siemens shambles

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

MPs have given the BBC a kicking over its Digital Media Initiative, a technology development programme that was meant to deliver a "benefit" of £17.9m but ended up costing it a net £38.2m.

The Public Accounts Committee hauled the Beeb over the coals, questioning why the project was handed to Siemens in 2008 without tendering, and then simply shifted back in house when the outsourcing giant failed to meet a succession of project milestones.

Unsurprisingly the project was one of the underpinnings to the Beeb's shifting of much of its operations from West London to Salford. It is designed to allow staffers to "develop, create share and manage" content from their desktops. It has to be in place before the move to Salford can take place.

The Beeb originally expected the plan to cost £81.7m, but deliver benefits of £99.6m, a net benefit of £17.9m. However, costs will now be £133.6m, with benefits of £95.4m - or in other words, a net cost of £38.2m.

After hearing from the Beeb, MPs decided: "The contract with Siemens transferred too much financial risk to the contractor, such that the BBC felt unable to intervene proactively in the development of the Programme until it was too late.

"The contract was terminated and the Programme taken in-house, but by then the BBC had suffered two years of delay and lost £26 million in benefits as a result."

MPs notes that the BBC subsequently "found £26 million of efficiencies within BBC Divisions, and negotiated £24.5 million of new efficiencies in the Siemens Framework Contract".

With dramatic understatement, the MPS "questioned whether these savings could and should have been identified earlier".

The MPs make a range of conclusions and recommendations. However, given that virtually any Reg reader would be able to draw the same themselves, we won't bore you here.

Still, the BBC's director of Future, Media and Technology, told the committee that the organisation had realised the importance of:

  • A senior leader who has a track record of successful delivery of large, complex software development projects
  • Clear roles and responsibilities
  • Cooperation between, and integration of, the various functions on a project, including development, deployment and support
  • Clear and effective project governance with the appropriate representation on each group or board from across the project, business and suppliers.

So, £38.2m for a four bullet-point lesson on project management. Bargain.

The report adds: "We welcome the BBC's success to date in developing this technology [inhouse] and look to the BBC to share lessons with the wider public sector."

Interestingly, the report notes that "The Comptroller and Auditor General told us that he did not have full and unfettered access to all the information he required to carry out his review, delaying the start of his work. This is not satisfactory.

"We expect the BBC and BBC Trust to ensure that full access is given promptly in the future."

We contacted the BBC's press office, and got an out of office reply. ®

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
MI6 oversight report on Lee Rigby murder: US web giants offer 'safe haven for TERRORISM'
PM urged to 'prioritise issue' after Facebook hindsight find
Assange™ slumps back on Ecuador's sofa after detention appeal binned
Swedish court rules there's 'great risk' WikiLeaker will dodge prosecution
NSA mass spying reform KILLED by US Senators
Democrats needed just TWO more votes to keep alive bill reining in some surveillance
'Internet Freedom Panel' to keep web overlord ICANN out of Russian hands – new proposal
Come back with our internet! cries Republican drawing up bill
What a Mesa: Apple vows to re-use titsup GT sapphire glass plant
Commits to American manufacturing ... of secret tech
prev story

Whitepapers

Driving business with continuous operational intelligence
Introducing an innovative approach offered by ExtraHop for producing continuous operational intelligence.
10 threats to successful enterprise endpoint backup
10 threats to a successful backup including issues with BYOD, slow backups and ineffective security.
Getting started with customer-focused identity management
Learn why identity is a fundamental requirement to digital growth, and how without it there is no way to identify and engage customers in a meaningful way.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.