Management World, Nice: Forum extends remit to biggest ICT buyers

The TeleManagement (TM) Forum has been working with the UK Government to establish a new industry programme to serve the procurement needs of very large organisations. They include government departments, defence industries, aerospace and financial services, which buy IT and comms technology on the same scale as service providers. The Forum argues that many of the its standards, guidelines and best practices are directly applicable.

The TM Forum said the same underlying driver, technology convergence, is changing the picture for many large-scale consumers of communications and IT technologies as well as the telecoms service providers. No longer are these separate strands of their procurement requirements, the needs for an integrated procurement approach are rising with the advent of convergent approaches such as service oriented computing architectures (SOA), IP networking and advanced service delivery platforms.

Martin Creaner, TM Forum President said 'This is a natural extension of our work with service providers around the world - convergence is making the needs of users and service providers ever more aligned. Standards allow economies of scale that these ultra large buyers want to tap into. We are delighted to establish a new programme aimed at meeting these needs.'

Andrew Bull Head of Infrastructure, Strategy and Architecture for the UK's Revenue and Customs departments commented 'We need to ensure the best value for money for UK taxpayers in our investments in IT and communications. Following international standards is one of the ways we can do that and we are delighted to be trail-blazing a new approach to working with an international trade association like the TM Forum. We hope other governments and large scale buyers will follow our lead.'

The British government needs all the help it can get with large scale IT deployments. The British still remember the fiasco in 1998, when problems with a new computer system at the Passport Agency cost the taxpayer more than £12 million (€15 million) and forced hundreds of people to cancel their holidays because of the backlog in issuing passports.

Now a £12.7 billion (€15.88 billion) project to computerise and network all English NHS patients' medical records will not be completed for at least another six years, four years behind schedule, according to the National Audit office (NAO) yesterday.

The NAO's report said: 'The scale of the challenge in developing and deploying these systems in the NHS has proved far greater than expected,' and added, 'The original timescales for the electronic care records service "&brkbar; turned out to be 'unachievable', raised unrealistic expectations, and put confidence in the programme at risk.'