I read an article on the BBC web site today which left me breathless. It related to the cost of public sector web sites, one in particular; One that has cost £105 million pounds over 3 years.
What! How much! Birmingham – bless ‘em ( my home city you see) – was lambasted for their, seemingly now paltry, spend of around £3 million.
I have supported expenditure on local government web sites here where I suggested how the costs of them could be evaluated by conceiving of them being turned off. Yes Switch them off, at least in your imagination, to establish just what you would have to put back in place to replace even part of the interaction you are currently having with your clients.
Anyway, I digress. Just who is it that spends so much money and why have I not seen them splashed about everywhere? At that spend I would expect them to be ubiquitous.
The article is here .
It’s by Rory Cellan-Jones who ‘outs’ the high-spending outfit in his article. So who is it?
It’s none other than Business Link! Yes Business Link, that organisation who formerly advised all sorts of companies on how to run their business! Given that slab of money you have to ask just how many businesses could they have helped in more practical ways? Anyway lets not go there.
For that spend you would imagine Business link are dealing with huge amounts of visitors per month; but no. They have just over 1 million unique visitors on average a month, so thats about £2.90-ish per visitor. To put some comparison to this, Lincolnshire County Councils costs would be around 9pence per visitor. Against £2.90! Breathtaking.
But should you be surprised? Possibly not. I worked with Business Link for a while some 13 years ago. I’m sure much has changed since – at least I had hoped so – but this seems to have put that hope to the sword. Back then they were a byword for inefficiency and mediocrity, at least in the business community. They showed little ability, apart from being an unnecessary but essential channel to government grants. Some of their advisors grasp of running real businesses seemed out of step with the day to day reality and now they’re demonstrating that inpetitude again.
Give the average web manager that sort of fire-power, with the development ability that’s inherent in that budget and things would be very different. Or would they? I’m not so sure because no web manager I know would be daft enough to spend that sort of ‘pounds per visitor’ money without the possibility of any serious justification or better still some sort of return. And if they did they would be put out quicker then a bonfire in a thunderstorm.
Are we all tarred with the same brush? I don’t think so but try telling that to the average Council tax payer.