Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Getting ready for Christmas.

Adrian and I met at SOLACE’s offices in Hope House, Great Peter Street, with Kathryn Rossiter, the Society’s Director of Development & Operations, to discuss the relationship between our organisations and opportunities for joint working and/or co-operation. The understandable context for our wide-ranging discussion was the challenge of engaging executives, who have tremendous demands on their time and can only offer a short span of attention in which to gain their commitment. The credit crunch can only exacerbate the demands for efficiency and, as we’re convinced, in Socitm, that our information management infrastructures should be used much more effectively, that will be the focus for our initial pitch. Kathryn suggested drafting “10 key questions” to CEOs, which is what we’ll do, and will help us to establish a CEO panel with whom we can discuss the outcome. Apparently, SOLACE had (or has) an “IT Panel & Professional Matters” Group, whose status she’ll also enquire into, as we may be able to link into that.

There are many parallels in recent developments in SOLACE and Socitm. There included commercial development exigencies and market intelligence, international development and social responsibility, and SOLACE also has a need to modernise its systems, as we are doing, which may provide further scope for collaboration that we agreed to follow-up. All in all, we thought, a very helpful meeting.

Starting with lunch, we met in the afternoon with CIPFA officials at their offices near Charing Cross. They included Alan Edwards, the CIPFA IT panel Chair, Paul Jackson, Performance Improvement Advisor (Technology), the Director of Business Development and Assistant Director, Policy & Technical. Alan chaired our discussion, which was structured in three areas – commercial, research and policy. We agreed an initiative on review/ endorsement and co-branding of products of common interest. In the past, CIPFA and Socitm have worked very well together – particularly during the CCT (Compulsory Competitive Tendering) era – and we hope to re-establish that sort of productive relationship supporting cross-cutting matters. CIPFA colleagues agreed to consider development of guidance on sustainable funding of ICT, enabling accurate cost accounting through the various channels, recognising that these are increasingly operated through partnerships.

In the evening I attended a dinner hosted by Lord Erroll in the Attlee Room at the House of Lords to discuss the UK National Identity Scheme. Geoff Llewellyn chaired, as usual, and James Hall, CEO of the Identity and Passport Service, was the speaker. I knew many of the attendees from previous dinners, but “new faces” included Glyn Evans and David Wilde. I was impressed at the pragmatic and business-like approach that has now materialised in the Identity Card programme but a number of attendees, me included, perhaps unfairly, extended the debate to encompass pan-Government security and PR concerns.

I think I must still have been a little jet-lagged as, for a second day, I was really struggling with tiredness! I got home at midnight; Chris was still up, putting the finishing touches to Christmas decorations, which was nice to arrive home to.

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