THE BBC'S MISSION WAS TO EDUCATE AND INFORM - HOW DMI CAN
EDUCATE YOU IN THE MERITS OF MULTISOURCING.
CREATED: 07 FEBUARY 2014,
Slightly mixed feelings about this ... as a champion of multisourcing
it's great that such a large and high profile organisation like the BBC
has given an illustration of many of the reasons why multisourcing
makes great business sense. As a licence fee payer it's infuriating that
it cost them just short of £100m to find out the hard way that IT
projects of any size need transparency, a sense of direction and
A true Multisourcing model delivers these things and more.
The BBC's Digital Media Initiative (DMI) was designed to move the
broadcaster away from using video tape to make, store and archive episodes of EastEnders, Strictly Come
Dancing and Call The Midwife.
And as a project it is probably overdue - after all when was the last time you reached for a three-pack of VHS
tapes, hurriedly trying to penetrate the cellophane with your finger nails to tape an episode of your favourite
TV show? Of course in homes these days it's all about Sky+, TiVo, or the BBC iPlayer (itself a masterpiece in IT
terms but one which contradicts business case evaluation - but more on that later).
The BBC, of course has to record a few more TV shows than you do. In the early days video tape was reused to
save money, which is the reason why so many early episodes of Doctor Who, for example, are missing. The
business case for a digital archive was a strong one, unfortunately, the National Audit Office report into DMI
suggests that it was a dog that ran away from its masters.
If only they’d had more archive episodes of Barbara Woodhouse to prevent it going “walkies”.
Confusion and a lack of planning were the main reasons behind the failure of the BBC's £98.4m Digital Media
The smallest SMEs (small to medium enterprises) plan significant IT projects meticulously so that would be the
least you would expect from a multi-million pound, licence payer funded corporation.
And confusion? If you don't have clarity of purpose at the start - DON'T START. If you lose focus mid-project,
pause, flag it up, get clarity and then proceed.
The National Audit Office report added that there was confusion about the technology including "confusion
within the BBC about the use of key terms such as 'archive database' and 'digital archive'."
Problems with getting the system to work had also added to the mix.
The NAO report concludes that nobody was really in charge, nobody could accurately gauge the progress that
had been made, and the BBC's bureaucratic structure meant that reporting of problems was lost in the fog and
not adequately acted upon.
Could multisourcing have saved the BBC some of your licence fee money? Well, it could.
Stoneseed’s multisourcing model certainly gives you transparency, effective governance and alignment of your
IT to your original business case. . ( click here to watch the video
But look at the costs of the project ...
The National Audit Office broke down the total costs for the project and they were divided between;
Information technology (£37.2m);
Partners Siemens/Atos (£24.9m);
BBC staff (£6.4m) and;
Other costs (£2.3m).
At its peak in 2011, 184 contractors and BBC staff were working for DMI, which was never completed.
The multisourcing model gives you access to best in class vendors but also crucially assesses your internal
resources and advises upon their efficient deployment.
And multisourcing provides you with a "whole of the market" overview of what is available - off the rack and
who would be best placed to work up something a little more bespoke.
This was a massive project, when the plug was finally pulled, there were commercially available digital
archive systems that could have been bought in and adapted, the multisourcing contracts are designed with
flexibility to do that and that agility tends to significantly reduce costs.
Aside from DMI, the Beeb is getting a little pressure over another IT miscalculation. Its flagship iPlayer catch
up service IS a staggering success story with 242 million hits a month. The only drawback is that it doesn't
require viewers to have a TV licence (the way the BBC gathers the money to make the programmes in the first
place) – so by the BBC’s admission 2% of households (or as the Daily Mail estimates 528,000 homes) could be
getting BBC content for free. The multisourcing approach would have identified this business case flaw at the
outset and suggested ways around it, like encryption that requires entry of a valid TV licence number to view
Of course, it would be unfair to single out the BBC; the NHS computer system, the UK benefits system are
examples of the difficulty in administering large IT projects
The common theme is that they are all tax-payer funded. Such large losses would not be tolerated in a
private sector boardroom, heads have rolled and the BBC admits it got DMI wrong and says it has now adopted
new procedures for managing big projects.
Next time Auntie try multisourcing and save us all some money.
Further details of our services can be found on our website www.stoneseed.co.uk