“individuality is likely to carry a high price tag”

(Many thanks to txay for permission to use this fantastic image)

Wow! What a quote from Martin Read, taken from this article in publicTECHNOLOGY.NET. It reminded me of something I read on gigaom some while ago when they were looking at barriers to the take up of cloud based solutions.

To put the quote into context Mr Read talks about how there are 440 local authorities within the UK and whether there really needs to be 440 different approaches to common issues such as HR provision.

Ho hum.

This is interesting and reminded me in turn of one of the things that caused the NPfIT to fail. This was that the brains behind the NPfIT decided that all hospitals should have the same approach to medical records, the same approach to scheduling appointments, the same approach to nigh on everything! There was even talk of putting all the redundant data in the bottom of a salt mine somewhere, that’s everyone’s medical records from each and every Strategic Health Authority all in one place.

Hospitals pride themselves on their individuality. Doctors, Nurses and Administrators pride themselves on their individuality. There have been reports that they seek to beat the rating systems (To game the system if you will.). Systems which were put in place in order to improve outcomes, and which were gamed sometimes to the detriment of patients. They would certainly look at the costs and benefits of a software application and take into account the weight (and subsequent inertia) of previous experience of their staff and – should the new system promise to cost them more in terms of training their staff – discard that option in favour of something which might be more expensive in the long-term.

(I’ve heard reports of late of how a community-based team have all had to go for training so that they can use the email system that the rest of the trust has been using for a number of years.)

However, I digress. If a universal system and set of structures was discarded by the NHS (an organisation which until recently was seen as being something of a unified whole (despite being made up of systems which were unashamedly disparate in the past)), then what hope is there in a system where individuality has been the norm for ever so much longer? The history of the NHS is beyond the scope of this discussion but to put things in a nutshell: in 1948 all the hospitals, doctors, nurses, pharmacists, opticians and dentists were brought together under one umbrella organisation. The history of Local Government is also beyond the scope of this discussion so, again, using a nutshell: The present system of Local Government we have has it’s roots in the 19th Century with refinements being made ever since.

I’m still digressing aren’t I? But what I’m getting at is that the sheer amount of history doesn't bode well for the ideal of a universal approach to Human Resources within Local Government in the UK. Besides which; doesn't it smack of something a little worrying? Doesn’t it sound a little bit like Communism? Is it just me or doesn’t it bring to mind unthinking, uncaring behemoths of bureaucracy grinding the individual down? Isn't ever so slightly anti-capitalist?

All local Governments aren’t the same. The populations they serve aren’t the same. The systems they use don’t do the same things, and nor should they. We at Arcus have experience of a wide range of approaches and we’re not afraid to look around at new systems or create our own should the need arise. We’ll look at the requirements of Local Government and point to the best solution of all those available and help tweak that solution if it’s not a prefect fit. Instead of getting a one-size-fits-all solution we’ll be your tailor!

Having said that we do have a HR offering that we're more than happy to brag about, but this would be the choice of an Authority rather than something imposed upon them.