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Rupert Goodwins' Diary

Tuesday 18/10/2005"Oh dear," says BT. "We don't want to outsource, but we have to.

Tuesday 18/10/2005

"Oh dear," says BT. "We don't want to outsource, but we have to. Just can't get the staff over here, you know. No skills. Nothing to do with cost saving."

Unsurprisingly, this story plucked at the heart strings of many of our readers who have had dealings with BT as customers, suppliers or even as some of those famously unskilled staff. "Quality of service appears to be irrelevant. Lack of skills is a joke. I know of three people wanting to join BT who have skills we struggle to get even form the offshore organisations but BT won't employ them because it would compromise their head count objectives," says Anonymous, who also claims to be managing a large project within BT only to get "the Hobson's choice of get rid of an 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 supporting) I can tell you the one and only reason that BT is outsourcing is because Al Noor's [BT CIO Alnoor Ramji] cost saving objectives require it to happen."

This is clearly unreliable info from a disgruntled source, and is easy to dismiss. Three people wanting to join BT? As if. Meanwhile, "BT Supplier" says "As a supplier into BT, I have on more than one occasion seen BT's approach to managing the delivery of technology projects — it is a totally committee based approach with no clear leadership. As a smart alec I know BT stands for "bring twenty" (to meetings). It is not the lack of resources or skills — more case of BT's inability to get value from and 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."

More total silliness. I've been to plenty of meetings with BT in attendance where they outnumbered the rest of us by ratios of no more than four or five to one. And as for suggestions that there may be ulterior motives involved in the selection of outsourcing partners — wash your mouse out at once.

And finally for this round-up — there are more Talkbacks on that story — a more plausible tale from a named source; Andy Neale, Senior Network Officer. "As someone who was made redundant by BT in the late '90s 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"

Now that rings a bell — which is more than many BT staff I knew in the '80s and 90s could do after they'd been felled in wave after wave of staffing cuts (known in the company as F Off '89, F Off '92, etc). As per usual, the brightest and best made sure they got the finest redundo deals before heading off to much nicer jobs in the outside world — leaving those whose major attributes were a lack of marketable skills but a tenacious hold on employment second only to the Greater Sucking Limpet of Madagascar.

Ah well. It's not as if we're entering a time when a telco's survival depends on exceptional nimbleness, vision and the ability to implement in a hurry.