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Re: [xml-dev] Re: XML As Fall Guy

> From: Ihe Onwuka <ihe.onwuka@gmail.com>
> Date: Sunday, 1 December 2013 7:13 pm
> Subject: Re: [xml-dev] Re: XML As Fall Guy
> The contractors can't bid intelligently because they usually don't have the
> core competencies (and often don't even know what they are) and will be
> planning to outsource them. A prime reason they are brought and paid a
> premium is so that the client has a central focal point for outsourcing
> blame.

This is a great summary of the current state of affairs in the large SI
(System Integrator) space.

An example of this "one stop shop" approach is the New Zealand Public Access
to Legislation (PAL) project, which implemented a comprehensive XML system for
drafting and publishing legislation.

The SI was Unisys and you can read the gory details here:

> The odds that they stumble upon the right technologies and the right people
> are extremely slim, few companies are intellectually agile enough to
> possess that expertise in house.

This, I think, might be the problem. Government and public agencies are not
set up to build and retain the kind of skills that are needed to service ever
more complex systems. Instead, they need to rely on outsourcing to someone and
the only someones suitable are these large SI companies, because the scope of
the system is too vast.

> That model of a company with specialist consultancy practices (applicable in
> most other professions) has largely died out in IT and been replaced by
> outsourcers that offer primarily project management skills that reckon they
> can throw together a team of people to meet a need. Unless the client
> already largely knows the technological space they are dealing with there
> are way too many things that can and will go wrong.

I would disagree to a certain extent here (primarily from my experience in the
XML consulting space). There are specialist consultancy practices making a
decent living, but large deals will go to large SIs because of the problems
mentioned above. A boutique specialist consultancy, by definition, cannot be
everything to everyone.

As I think someone else mentioned, by the time the specialists get involved in
large projects it is often "too late". Insofar as the SI has made broad
ranging assumptions about the project and oversold the customer on timeline
and functionality expectations. Cost never seems to be a problem, they usually
have a pretty kickass sales team.

Gareth Oakes
Chief Architect, GPSL

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