What a way to start the week – I’m certainly glad today is over with. After a journey of over two hours through wind, rain and floods to the office, I learned that someone had run into the side of Joye’s car, as she was on her way in. (Nobody hurt.)

Geoff and I arrived late for the ICT Stakeholder Group meeting at Building 1000 to find the rest of the Group waiting, but no presentation facilities set-up. While the meeting started on other business, I then did my Mr Bean impression (pulling the projector off the table, twice) while trying to run an extension cable to power…

The agenda was a bit too packed, and we certainly could have done without losing the time, but there was an excellent presentation from Housing & Public Protection on their e-BAS Team (can’t remember what it stands for – something like “electronic Business Advisory Team”) which made the ideal introduction to our presentation on data quality.

Caroline Curley showed how data duplication and inaccuracy are inevitable if a business’s core system is not managed and utilised effectively – and that that is a business, not an ICT, problem.

Once the data can’t be relied upon, people are quite inventive in finding other ways to do their job – bypassing their core business system, and compounding matters. The result? Massive inefficiency – not just in the service’s own system, but most likely in others’ who may use their data.
As luck would have it, The London Business School and Capgemini have just published a report finding that weak information cultures are endemic in UK firms!

After the lunch I planned to take with Matt Cole, who manages our Microsoft Shared Learning Group, but which we postponed as it was still bucketing down, I met with colleagues from ICT and Finance to discuss electronic interfacing between iSys (the Housing Management System) and Masterpiece (the Financial Management System).

Apart from the fact that this isn’t all that efficient, and results in reconciliation and payment delays, it will hardly be appropriate in our new paper-free accommodation! It turns-out the main reason that we haven’t yet gone over to e-billing is that when we last surveyed our suppliers there were quite a few small businesses who wouldn’t have been able to deal with us electronically, and therefore would be disadvantaged.

That was quite a while ago, however, so we agreed on a further survey, and if there are still small businesses that would have problems, we’ll decide whether we should help them. The other main imperative was to capture invoices required to be produced to HMRC as evidence of tax paid, so we also discussed an interim solution based on scanning and indexing supporting documentation.

Just as I got caught in a jam at Canning Town roundabout, a radio traffic flash announced the Blackwall Tunnel was closed by a crash involving lorries. Another two hour journey ensued.