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RCUK Shared Services Centre ‘a fantastically expensive failure’

John Seddon is visiting professor at the Lean Enterprise Research Centre at Cardiff University and managing director of Vanguard Consulting, which advises the public sector in the UK, Netherlands and Scandinavia. In a lengthy review of the problems involved in call centres and other “service factories” last month, Seddon cites the RCUK Shared Services Centre in Swindon as a textbook example of what can go wrong. He says:

“Consider some of the fantastically expensive failures of shared services projects such as the shared services programme for the UK Research Councils (sharing IT, HR and finance) which was bought at £40m and is now forecast to cost £120m, and it ain’t over till the shared services work (which they don’t and probably won’t).”

RCUK has being saying that despite increased costs, the service centre is a success. Here we have one of the UKs experts in the field saying its “a fantastically expensive failure”. I dont know whos right. But if the failure is actually on the scale cited by Seddon, then you have to wonder why no one at RCUK has lost their job.

[Update, 14 August. David Delpey has spoken to me and countered Seddons criticisms.]