Saturday, 14 May 2016

For want of an archaeologist ...

I love it when I find a new example of a Bottleneck item - those purchases which are often comparatively low price but of critical importance.  Today's Times yielded one such example which I'm not sure many would have thought of: archaeologists!

UK politicians have made a lot of noise about the need for more housebuilding. In parallel, the HS2 is quite possibly the biggest, and most politically sensitive infrastructure project for some time, for example, it's 350 miles long - you can read more of my observations on its procurement here. The financial cost of each of these initiatives is enormous and logically delays will add to cost and have a negative impact on delivery of the business case.  Politicians accountable for delivery will understandably be a bit sensitive too.

However, before work can actually commence on site there is a requirement in the UK for an archaeological investigation.  The estimated demand for archaeologists means that an additional 25% of these 'Indiana Jones' types are required.

I'm sure you can see where this is going - what's the lead-time to get an archaeologist with the necessary skills trained, was the supply pipeline of archaeologists created in sufficient time, has enough attention been given to attract students to pursue archaeology, how much had been budgeted for the premium costs which may now need to be paid for this scarce resource, has the Home Office thought through the potential visa implications for non-EU citizens who may be required? You get the feel for the procurement, project and programme management risks?

Somebody tell me that this has all been previously risk assessed and mitigated. Do I sense an 'In The Thick of It' moment?  Perhaps. as they used to say of procurement, this is Archaeology's opportunity - but hopefully not at Procurement's expense.

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