It seems that applications take up a lot of the government's budget, year on year, which makes me wonder why more departments aren't following Queensland's Department of Education.
The department has released a tender for a vendor to construct a plan to rationalise 35 Microsoft Access and .NET applications, calling in an external vendor to take a snapshot of what the department's got under its hood. I'm sure it's part of the Department of Human Services consolidation.
It wants to use the money it requires to keep the applications up and running in other areas. The more it can kill off, the more it can spend somewhere else. It sounds sensible — especially when you consider data released by the Federal Government last week (PDF), which said that in the year to 30 June 2010, the applications service tower cost 36 per cent of the over $5 billion federal government IT budget.
That's almost $2 billion spent each year.
In that year, 52 per cent of employees working on public service IT were working on that area. And if you look at the people who were hired outside of the public service to work on the government's IT, 70 per cent of them worked on that area. Given that the Gershon report wanted to cut contractors down, wouldn't it be a good idea to have a good look at all these applications these people are managing?
Do we need them all? I bet the users think they do. But what if they could be convinced to move to something else that would suit their needs just as well, but would also help someone else, cutting one variant out of the mix? Unfortunately, as almost every shared services implementation has shown us, sharing has never been humanity's best trait. And many IT projects fail because of poor change management.
Then you've got to add consumerisation into the mix. End users don't want just one application to do what they need, they want the one that they like! And they like to be able to download it themselves and preferably onto their own device as well as onto the desktop. So securing and managing those applications looks like a nightmare. More people please, not less!
Is there any way to cut down the application bloat, which doesn't involve an extremely costly program that results in user uproar? Or are we just doomed to having 10 different applications to meet everyone's possible need and hiring the requisite number of people to manage them?