BT attacked over UK IT skills claims

BT attacked over UK IT skills claims

Summary: BT claims its decision to outsource IT development to India was driven by lack of skills in the UK but analysts claim the real motive was probably financial

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TOPICS: Networking
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Industry experts have hit back at BT after the telecoms giant said lack of UK IT skills was forcing it into offshoring.

The company is outsourcing its IT development work to India claiming it has been unable to find sufficient numbers of qualified staff in the UK, according to Meryl Bushell, chief procurement officer at BT.

Offshoring was the only option for accessing the number of expert staff the vendor needs Bushell said. "India gives us access to quality in terms of skills, experience and expertise. But it is all about the volume. All the skills we need over there we can get over here, but it is whether we can get them at the right scale," she said

BT has come under fire from analysts and industry figures who say it risks cutting back on quality to save on costs.

Peter Ryan, offshoring analyst from Datamonitor, said the move was cost driven not skills driven. "I would be very surprised if BT can get a higher quality in terms of skills abroad. Any company going offshore is looking to save costs as an initial premise. For BT the driver would certainly be cost."

According to Ryan the UK is currently one of the most expensive countries to set up call centres in, which indicates offshoring would save costs rather than improve quality of service.

Jon Collins, principle analyst at Quocirca, agreed that the telecoms provider was cost driven rather than skills driven. "I would be very surprised if it was a skills move, just because labour is cheaper doesn't guarantee quality. It sounds a bit glib to me to say there's a skills issue," he said.

BT began offshoring in 1995 and has about 5,000 qualified IT professionals working on its behalf in India.

Topic: Networking

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8 comments
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  • As someone who has witnessed an internal BT project blow up out of all proportion, I can say that the both reasons for outsourcing are probably true. Rather than ask why a single IT project needs 350 premium skilled developers they just offshore the project to get the 350 developers at a cheaper price.

    The quality of the output from India is not the problem; it is the quality of what is given them to work with that matters...
    anonymous
  • it skills are lacking in senior management full stop.
    anonymous
  • bt helpdesk dont make me laugh the only thing they care about is profit , i cant wit til my contract ends they got me by the balls i will never recommend them , luckily i am skilled in how to set up networks etc but i feel sorry for the average user
    anonymous
  • As a supplier into BT, I have on more than one occassion seen BT's approach to managing the delivery of technology projects - it is a totally commitee based approach with no clear leadership. Acc. to a smart alec I know BT stands for "bring twenty" (to meetings).

    One of the reasons they might not have the required IT skills or find them is that most of their staff is attending meaningless meetings or generating reams of paper on some low value topic.

    It is not the lack of resources or skills - more case of BT's inability to get value from these and it's inability to manage these.

    On the other hand they do part-own a offshore JV in India - BT Mahindra, that might be where they are sourcing all these skills from.
    anonymous
  • Of course this is cost driven. The issue is not that BT cannot find the skills in the UK. Their issue is that they cannot find the skills in the UK *at a price they are willing to pay*.

    Similarly with the alleged skills shortage as a whole. There is no UK skills shortage, there is simply a shortage of those willing to provide their skills at a cheap price.
    anonymous
  • ..As someone who was made redundant by BT in the late 90's...it is pretty smarting for them to say the skills are not available. Unfortunately they never made full use of my skills and I got a better job elsewhere. It's higher levels of Bt management who lack skills....Business and people Skills mainly..
    anonymous
  • The Empire Strikes Back !!
    anonymous
  • As someone currently managing It projects within BT and who was recently given the hobsons choice of get rid of and existing highly skilled team working on leading edge IT and replace with an offshore team or close the project down (irrespective of the large customer base the project was supported) I can tell you the one and only reason that BT is outsourcing is because Al Noors cost saving objectives require it to happen. Quality of service appears to be irrelevant. Lack of skills is a joke. I know of 3 people wanting to join BT who have skills we struggle to get even form the offshore organisation s but BT won't employ them because it would compromise their head count objectives. The inside rumour is that the stakes he personally has in offshore IT organisations will no doubt benefit from this policy and with further feather his nest before he gets the golden boot. The IT capability within BT is being systematically torn apart and steadily disabled by the misguided twin objectives of offshore cost cutting and migration to external ICT projects - but hey who are we to argue with CIO of the year !!!
    anonymous