Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Return of the iPads

I recently  referred to being asked to produce a business case for iPads. I was astounded that, without any meaningful development of a business case, a self-fulfilling conclusion seemed to have been arrived at that business could no longer be carried out efficiently without this 'must have accessory'. 

Anyway our friends at Apple seemed to have just developed the 'sale of the century'. Now all those procurement and finance people who would advocate the need for a meaningful business case have just been punched in the solar plexus - the House of Commons Administration Committee has apparently now recommended "rapid rollout of suitable mobile table hardware" to all 650 MPs.

It's not that the MPs lack technology to support them in their work; they already have three desktops and two laptops - I suspect also a Blackberry. (I hope someone has asked the question relating to how much slower they travel with all this luggage.  I also hope they have completed an H&S assessment to protect against potential injury.)
regular readers of this blog will be familiar with the 'how quick can you get it?' business case.  For example, we met it with the great procurement successes of the NHS IT system and the police mobile technology.  What goes around comes around!

Let's say that each iPad will cost £400, that's around £260,000 to kit out the MPs, but how much extra to kit out those officers who support the House who will also need them?  That's clearly an OJEU contract.  But hold on a minute, if MPs need these devices, have they not, by default, just provided a tiny justification for every public representative in the land to also have an iPad. How much would that cost?  Let's make it easy on ourselves, and assume, only for the sake of argument, on the 'conservative side', 400 councils each with say 25 councillors - that's a further £64m (isn't it?). So to kit out MPs and councillors, before we add Health, Police, etc. is a tidy sum.  One thing is sure, that's one great framework arrangement to set up and win!

Now, let's reflect on Obama's state of the nation address - yes, we discussed that recently too, and 'Bigger Brazil'  Our friends in USA and Brazil are incentivising high-tech businesses. while UK politicians argue we have a bias against UK business.  Now, correct me if I am wrong but aren't Apple based in USA and Blackberry in Canada?  If UK politicians could be a little bit more patient, could the investment in mobile technology be used to accelerate the development of a UK alternative which is better fit for the specific business needs of politicians - it could avoid the need for all the other IT kit we are burdening them with and provide a USP for export.  Is that part of the business case?

What business case?  The business case which allegedly says issue of the iPads (or other equivalent) could save 'several thousand pounds'.

Sanderson, D. (2012) 'Order, order ... new iPads for everyone in the Commons', The Times, 7 February, p.7.

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