Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Pyramid Marketing Scheme

Another insight into why public sector websites are all so bloody awful. The University of Wolverhampton have published an ad in Computer Weekly advertising the fact that they wished to invite tenders for a Content Management System. Anyone interested had to apply BY FAX.

So I sent off the fax. A day later, they reply (by fax) that "the University is charging £30 administration fee for tender documentation. Please forward your cheque ..." etc etc.

This is a fantastic idea. There are loads of different kinds of Content Management Systems - so you have to pay £30 to find out whether yours is eligible! If this is standard practice (they assure me it is) then about 40 get-rich-quick schemes have already occured to me.

The £30 covers the cost of print and paper apparently. When I phoned to find out if this were a joke, Wolverhampton University purchasing officer, a Mr Porter, said "We will not send out these documents by e-mail."

That means that the tender will be massive and there will be no option to fill it out electronically. More and more appealing! I bet that all of the best suppliers will be falling over each other for this bit of business!

So, they will not get the best Content Management System on the market. They will get the company that is prepared to take the risk of filling out a massive paper applicaton form full of the usual risk-aversion bollocks (most public sector tender documents I fill out barely mention what it is they want - most of it concentrates on ruling out the types of suppliers that they won't work with).

They will spend public money on what will almost certainly be an unsuitable system.

Nominations for the most backward University in the UK anyone?


Andrew Brown said...

You know why it is we won't say what it is we want? 'Cause we don't know!

Or actually, because only people who are interested in what the back end looks like are allowed to write the tender documents.

Ivan said...

Oh I love it. In 2005. Fax applications. Don't know why we bothered.