Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Lagos, dealing with politics of a different kind

I'm in Lagos, Nigeria for a week working very intensely on a project to automate the high courts of Lagos State. Internet here is pretty erratic at best so my blog posts and tweets might be a bit sparse or irrelvant to those back in the UK.

Much of this week is being taken up dealing with internal politics, not the grand national or local level politics, but the hierarchies and political maneuvering that happens in any organisation and seems to happen even more so in the civil service of any country.

The organisation I am working with has been drafted in to basically make good a workflow and document management system that entered development nearly 6 years ago and launched nearly 4 years ago but today is barely used. The original project was funded by DFID through the British Council's Strength, growth and Justice programme and focused mainly on technology although there was some business process re-engineering done, all by an American company.

The technology itself has not really been the failure, it's technically a good system, but it fails to take into account the people. For it to be implemented properly working practices had to change, business processes had to be modified and this just hasn't happened. The internal politics weren't taken into account in the implementation phase so it's stalled.

This inertia to change is largest in the so called frontline staff of the civil service (anywhere in the world), the people who actually carry out the processes and use the IT system, middle managers and senior managers will go along with it but people at the bottom seem to hate change. This issue will I think be one of the largest to be overcome by an incoming Conservative government that is determined to cut the deficit through efficiency savings.

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