Tuesday, March 27, 2007

The peril that track changes can be to a civil servant!

Why is it that no matter how many times people in offices use Microsoft Word they never check to see if the "track changes" feature is still on on the document they are working on? I ask this because this morning I discovered that the person who provided with information in an FoI which I wrote about here seems to have made that very mistake!

Whilst I did indeed receive answers to my questions, I also received, hidden away in the document, a memo from 2004 sent by the Director of Contact Centres for JobCentrePlus to all the others Field Directors and Deputy Directors of JobCentrePlus, and all did not seem well back then.

Apparently they experienced "painful" internal communication issues when it came to reporting and escalating emerging IT and telephony problems. The memo says that it "has been clear for some weeks now that the current systems for communicating and escalating IT issues which seriously impact CC business, and hence links to local office operations, are not serving us as well as they have in the past."

The memo then went on to detail the "current situation" and blamed communication failures on it having to deal with two contracted channels. The memo said that "not only are there two major contractual routes to deal with, each have different systems for recording incidents but also and to add to the issue each have different service levels agreed as part of legacy contracts - and this is just IT."

I wonder if they still have those dual contracts causing them problems three years on? Clearly they still have issues with IT training where they should be beating into their staff that just because you delete something, especially where Microsoft is involved, it doesn't really mean it's gone! If you forget that people might suggesting that you're not fit for purpose!


Anonymous said...

And also, word docs could be edited, just for fun, quite easily by someone like me who isn't very good with these computer things. Surely a pdf is the prefered file type to send out? Okay, I suspect you geek-types could hack a pdf open and alter that for fun, but at least that history won't be there. Surely?!

Anonymous said...

For obvious reasons lawyers are sensitive to this kind of problem. We don't use tracked changes, but standalone comparison software to compare different versions of clean documents. My firm has software that automatically strips metadata from all email attachments in case someone makes such an elementary error.

Despite spending half our money, the useless ******** can't afford a licence for that?

Fahrenheit said...

I had a fairly peripheral role in setting up the Job Centre Plus pilot scheme.

It's getting on for ten years ago now, but this fits my experience of the project distrubingly well.

The incompetance of some of the managers was staggering, and I ran a mile from it all as soon as I could.

Just don't ask them about the Italian furniture. Or the CCTV.

Chris Paul said...

Nice one Dizzy. Worth checking previously distributed documents for the same schoolboy error. But alas if the PTB are reading your blog the supply will be cut off very sharply indeed.

Er, within the bounds of Departmental and Non Departmental competence.

You don't think that the beseiged Labour/Number 10 wonks made the same mistake do you?

SimonW said...

It is always interesting looking at the revisions when you are sent an electronic CV by a job applicant!