Monthly Archives: December 2013

Celtic Scrutiny – lessons shared across the Irish Sea

Scrutiny

Firstly, thanks to the Wales Audit Office for the invitation to the ‘Scrutiny in the Spotlight’ seminar and the opportunity to view at first hand the shared learning that is taking place across the public sector in Wales.

I set out from Dublin with three goals in mind:

  1. To find out more about this Scrutiny thing that everybody in Wales seems to be so enthusiastic about!
  2. To see the approach taken by the Wales Audit Office to the administration and delivery of shared learning seminars.
  3. To explore the potential for collaboration and information sharing between the audit offices in Ireland and Wales.

Prior to the seminar, I have to admit that I was sceptical about the relevancy for me of discussions about the scrutiny function in local government (local authorities in Ireland do not fall under the mandate of our office and are audited by a separate Local Government Audit Service). However, it struck me during one of the workshops that scrutiny in a broader sense is part of any effective governance regime.

Irish Audit Office

Now I might be wrong (it wouldn’t be the first time), but I think that a critical aspect of well-functioning scrutiny is about putting the right questions to the right people at the right time (and continuing to ask them until you get satisfactory answers!). That principle is obviously just as relevant to those charged with governance in a school in Cork or a hospital in Galway, as it is to local government in Wales.

As for my second goal, I was particularly interested in seeing whether the five hosting partners could work together to deliver a seamless programme. With so many parties involved, there was the potential for mixed messages or an over-packed agenda. In that sense, I think the workshop format worked very well, allowing multiple themes to be explored and enabling participants to choose the ones most relevant to their own work.

As an aside, I have to say that my personal highlight of the day was the presentation from Peter Watkin Jones on the public inquiry into the Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust. While the subject matter had the potential to cast a cloud over proceedings, the speaker was able to throw light on the failings that occurred and offer hope of a brighter future. While we all know the imperative of learning from our own mistakes and experiences, it can be just as valuable (and a lot less painful) to learn from failings in other jurisdictions.

Just to prove that audit offices do practice what they preach, I met with members of the good practice exchange team the morning after the seminar to discuss opportunities for future collaboration and shared learning between our offices.

So with my three goals achieved (a triple crown, you might say), I turned for home.

On a final note, I have to say how impressed I was by the number of contributions made in the Welsh language during the seminar and how this was facilitated (without any fuss) by the organisers. I think it’s fair to say that the Irish language faces many similar challenges, so maybe this is another area where shared learning is in order.

Slán agus beannacht libh go léir.

Shane Carton

Office of the Comptroller and Auditor General (Irish National Audit Office)

Craffu Celtaidd – rhannu gwersi ar draws Môr Iwerddon

Craffu

Yn gyntaf, diolch i Swyddfa Archwilio Cymru am y gwahoddiad i’r seminar ‘Goleuni ar Graffu’ a’r cyfle i weld â’m llygaid fy hun y dysgu a rennir sy’n digwydd ym mhob rhan o’r sector cyhoeddus yng Nghymru.

Cychwynnais o Ddulyn gyda thri nod

  1. Dysgu mwy am y Craffu ‘ma mae pawb yng Nghymru’n canu ei glodydd!
  2. Gweld sut mae Swyddfa Archwilio Cymru yn mynd ati i weinyddu a chynnal seminarau dysgu a rennir.
  3. Edrych ar y posibilrwydd y gallai swyddfeydd archwilio Cymru ac Iwerddon gydweithio a rhannu gwybodaeth.

Cyn y seminar, rhaid i mi gyfaddef fy mod i’n amheus a fyddai’r trafodaethau am y swyddogaeth graffu mewn llywodraeth leol yn berthnasol i mi (nid yw awdurdodau lleol Iwerddon yn rhan o gylch gwaith ein swyddfa ac maen nhw’n cael eu harchwilio gan Wasanaeth Archwilio Llywodraeth Leol ar wahân). Fodd bynnag, sylweddolais yn un o’r gweithdai fod craffu yn ei ystyr ehangach yn rhan o unrhyw drefn lywodraethu effeithiol.

Irish Audit Office

Efallai mod i’n anghywir (nid dyma’r tro cyntaf), ond rwy’n credu mai agwedd hollbwysig ar graffu llwyddiannus yw gofyn y cwestiynau iawn i’r bobl iawn ar yr adeg iawn (a’u gofyn drosodd a throsodd nes i chi gael atebion boddhaol!). Mae’r egwyddor honno’r un mor berthnasol i’r rhai sy’n llywodraethu ysgol yn Cork neu ysbyty yn Galway, ag y mae i lywodraeth leol yng Nghymru.

O ran fy ail nod, roeddwn i’n arbennig o awyddus i weld a allai’r pum partner a oedd yn hwyluso’r seminar weithio gyda’i gilydd i gyflwyno rhaglen gydlynol. Gyda chymaint o bartïon yn cyfrannu, roedd perygl o gael negeseuon cymysg neu agenda orlawn. Yn hynny o beth, rwy’n credu bod y fformat gweithdai wedi gweithio’n dda iawn, gan roi’r cyfle i edrych ar sawl thema wahanol a rhoi’r cyfle i’r sawl a oedd yno ddewis y rhai mwyaf perthnasol i’w gwaith.

Hoffwn ddweud hefyd mai uchafbwynt y diwrnod i mi oedd cyflwyniad Peter Watkin Jones ar yr ymchwiliad cyhoeddus i Ymddiriedolaeth Sefydledig y GIG Canol Swydd Stafford. Er y gallai’r pwnc fod wedi bwrw cysgod dros y digwyddiad, llwyddodd y siaradwr i daflu goleuni ar y methiannau a welwyd a chynnig gobaith am ddyfodol gwell. Er y gwyddom i gyd pa mor bwysig yw dysgu o’n camgymeriadau a’n profiadau ni’n hunain, gall dysgu o fethiannau mewn awdurdodaethau eraill fod llawn mor werthfawr (ac yn llai poenus o lawer).

I brofi bod swyddfeydd archwilio yn gwrando ar eu cyngor nhw’u hunain, cefais gyfarfod gydag aelodau’r tîm cyfnewid arfer da drannoeth y seminar i drafod cyfleoedd i’n swyddfeydd gydweithio a rhannu dysgu yn y dyfodol.

Felly, a minnau wedi cyflawni’r tri nod (coron driphlyg, fel petai), dyma fi’n troi am adre.

I gloi, rhaid i mi ddweud fy mod wedi cael fy siomi ar yr ochr orau gan nifer y cyfraniadau Cymraeg yn y seminar a sut y cawsant eu hwyluso (heb ffws na ffwdan) gan y trefnwyr. Credaf ei bod hi’n deg dweud bod yr iaith Wyddeleg yn wynebu llawer o anawsterau tebyg, felly hwyrach bod hwn yn faes arall addas ar gyfer rhannu dysgu.

Slán agus beannacht libh go léir.

Shane Carton

Oifig ân Ard Reachtaire Cuntas agus Ciste/ Office of the Comptroller and Auditor General (Swyddfa Archwilio Genedlaethol Iwerddon)

Dydyn ni ddim yn Kansas mwyach…

Jessica Crowe yw Cyfarwyddwr Gweithredol y Ganolfan Craffu Cyhoeddus, elusen annibynnol a sefydlwyd yn 2003 i hyrwyddo gwaith craffu ac atebolrwydd gwell wrth wneud penderfyniadau ar draws y sector cyhoeddus.

jessica_portrait_jpg250x166

Ddydd Iau diwethaf, clywais weinidog llywodraeth leol yn dweud pethau fel hyn:
“craffu yw calon ac enaid llywodraethu da”
“craffu yw’r llywodraeth mewn llywodraeth leol”
“mae pawb o’r arweinyddiaeth i’r rheng flaen yn deall rôl a gwerth craffu… dyma’r amodau angenrheidiol i graffu allu ychwanegu gwerth ”
“craffu yw’r gwasanaeth buddsoddi i arbed clasurol”

I ddarllenwyr yn Lloegr – na, doeddwn i heb gael fy hudo i ffwrdd dros yr enfys i wlad chwedlonol Oz. Y gweinidog dan sylw oedd Lesley Griffiths AC, Gweinidog Llywodraeth Leol a Busnes y Llywodraeth yng Nghymru, yn rhoi’r prif anerchiad mewn cynhadledd ar graffu yng Nghaerdydd, a ddenodd 250 o bobl. Fel y bydd rhai ohonoch yn gwybod, dechreuodd y Ganolfan Craffu Cyhoeddus gyflwyno rhaglen newydd bwysig yng Nghymru yn gynharach eleni ar ran Llywodraeth Cymru, ac roeddem yn cefnogi’r gynhadledd hon fel rhan o’r rhaglen, ynghyd â’n partneriaid, Swyddfa Archwilio Cymru, Llywodraeth Cymru, Cymdeithas Llywodraeth Leol Cymru ac Ysgol Fusnes Caerdydd.

Cafwyd gweithdai gan y Ganolfan Craffu Cyhoeddus ar ein model Enillion ar Fuddsoddiad ar gyfer dangos effaith adolygiadau craffu, anerchiad cloi rhagorol gan Tim Gilling, a fi oedd yn cadeirio’r gynhadledd gyfan. Gydag amrywiaeth eang o weithdai, yn cynnwys un gan Catherine Howe o Public-i, sydd bob amser yn ddiddorol, a chyflwyniad cyfareddol gan Peter Watkin Jones, cyfreithiwr i Ymchwiliad Francis, roedd digon ar yr agenda i gymaint o gynadleddwyr allu cyfiawnhau cymryd diwrnod llawn o’r gwaith i ddod.
Yr hyn oedd yn arbennig o galonogol i mi oedd yr ymdeimlad amlwg yna o egni a phenderfyniad yn yr ystafell. Er gwaethaf llwyddiannau craffu nodedig yng Nghymru, er enghraifft ’Adolygiad Caerdydd o’r economi nos ac adolygiadau a ddisgrifiwyd ar y diwrnod, er enghraifft Adolygiad Wrecsam o farchnadoedd ac ’Adolygiad Abertawe o gymorth i rai syn gadael gofal mae nifer o gynghorau yng Nghymru wedi cael trafferth gwella’u gwaith craffu. Fodd bynnag, byddwn yn dweud fod y gynhadledd yr wythnos diwethaf yn drobwynt yn y broses o adeiladu consensws newydd na ddylid goddef safonau craffu gwael neu gymedrol yng Nghymru mwyach. Dyma ystafell (fawr) lawn o bobl a oedd yn barod i newid ac yn gadarnhaol ynglŷn â sicrhau bod ymarfer craffu gan aelodau yn addas i helpu gwasanaethau cyhoeddus ledled Cymru i fynd i’r afael â’r heriau y byddant yn eu hwynebu dros y blynyddoedd i ddod.

Clywsom gynrychiolydd o Ynys Môn yn dweud ei fod wedi’i ysbrydoli i fynd yn ôl ac ailfeddwl ynglŷn â sut maen nhw’n gwneud pethau a her wych gan gynghorydd arall ynglŷn â sut i ddatblygu brand cryf i graffu yng Nghymru. Gwelsom brysurdeb ar stondin y Ganolfan Craffu Cyhoeddus dros amser cinio, gyda chopïau o Tipping the Scales – ein canllaw ar Enillion ar Fuddsoddiad drwy’r model craffu – yn mynd fel slecs. Ond nid hunanganmoliaeth gyffyrddus oedd popeth chwaith. Dywedodd un o gynghorwyr yr wrthblaid yn ei awdurdod – sef yr unig aelod craffu a oedd yn bresennol o’r awdurdod hwnnw mae’n debyg – sut oedd craffu yn gorfod brwydro i dorri allan o reolaeth grŵp y mwyafrif, a gan aelodau a fyddai wedi hoffi mwy o gydnabyddiaeth o’r camau a gymerwyd (gyda chefnogaeth y Ganolfan Craffu Cyhoeddus) i wella craffu yn Awdurdodau Parciau Cenedlaethol Cymru.
Ond yn gyffredinol, cefais argraff gref iawn o ddatblygiad yr hyn roedd y Gweinidog yn ei alw’n gymuned graffu bwrpasol a llawn gweledigaeth yng Nghymru. Felly, beth sydd wrth wraidd y weledigaeth ‘rywle draw dros yr enfys’ hon? Credaf fod sawl elfen yn ei chymell:
• Ymrwymiad gwleidyddol diffuant a diddordeb gan y Gweinidog Llywodraeth Leol, sydd wedi gwneud pwynt o ymweld â chynghorau Cymru a siarad yn uniongyrchol â chynghorwyr etholedig – ac sydd wedi gwneud buddsoddiadau go iawn ar gyfer gwella i gefnogi’r diddordeb hwn, ar ffurf rhaglen y Ganolfan Craffu Cyhoeddus a hefyd y Gronfa Datblygu Gwaith Craffu sy’n ariannu mentrau craffu ledled Cymru;

• Diddordeb o’r newydd ym mhotensial craffu i gefnogi gwella gwasanaethau ac atebolrwydd cryfach gan reolyddion, er enghraifft Swyddfa Archwilio Cymru, sydd cyn hir yn lansio eu hastudiaeth fawr o graffu ledled Cymru, yn seiliedig ar ddysgu drwy fethodoleg adolygu gan gymheiriaid;

• Cydnabyddiaeth fod angen i wasanaethau cyhoeddus yng Nghymru newid ac addasu i her caledi a galwadau a disgwyliadau cymdeithasol sy’n newid, a chydnabyddiaeth y gall proses graffu ddemocrataidd gynhwysol helpu i adeiladu cefnogaeth a derbyniad o’r angen i newid – drwy gynnwys dinasyddion a defnyddwyr gwasanaethau wrth ddatblygu atebion ochr yn ochr â’r rhai sy’n gwneud penderfyniadau.

Mae’n ddyddiau cynnar, ac mae camau sydd ar y gweill, er enghraifft datblygu set o Nodweddion Craffu Effeithiol wedi’u cytuno ar gyfer rheolyddion a gwleidyddion y bu’r Ganolfan Craffu Cyhoeddus yn cynorthwyo Rhwydwaith Swyddogion Craffu Cymru i’w datblygu yn dilyn astudiaeth Swyddfa Archwilio Cymru, yn helpu i symud pethau ymlaen i’r cam nesaf. Y neges fwyaf y ceisiais ei chyfleu yn y gynhadledd oedd yr angen i ymarferwyr craffu yng Nghymru ysgogi mwy o gysondeb a chodi ymarfer craffu i’r safonau uchaf. Gyda’r heriau y mae gwasanaethau cyhoeddus a chymunedau yn eu hwynebu, ni fydd craffu cymedrol neu anghyson yn ddigon: mae angen i gydweithwyr herio ymarfer gwael, bod yn hunanfeirniadol a dysgu o brofiadau pobl eraill beth sy’n gweithio.

Wedi meddwl, mae hon yn neges dda i ymarferwyr craffu ledled Lloegr (a mannau eraill) hefyd. A does dim angen i chi wisgo esgidiau rhuddem na chlicio’ch sodlau – gallwch ddilyn trafodaethau’r gynhadledd ar Twitter ar #scrutiny13, (gyda’r uchafbwyntiau wedi’u crynhoi’n gyfleus ar Storify), darllen blog y Gyfnewidfa Arfer Da Swyddfa Archwilio Cymru am amrywiaeth o syniadau gan gyfranwyr, gwylio fideos o gyfweliadau â rhai o’r siaradwyr ar Vimeo, neu ddysgu mwy yn gyffredinol ar wefan Swyddfa Archwilio Cymru.

We’re not in Kansas anymore ……

Jessica Crowe is Executive Director of the Centre for Public Scrutiny, an independent charity founded in 2003 to promote better scrutiny and accountability in decision-making across the public sector.  Here’s a copy of Jessica’s blog the weekend following the conference.

jessica_portrait_jpg250x166

On 28 November,  I heard a local government minister say things like:

“scrutiny is the heart and soul of good governance”

“scrutiny puts the government into local government”

“everyone from the leadership to the front line understands the role and value of scrutiny … these are the necessary conditions for scrutiny to add value”

“scrutiny is the classic invest to save service”

For readers in England, no I hadn’t been spirited away over the rainbow to a mythical land of Oz. The minister concerned was Lesley Griffiths AM, Minister for Local Government and Government Business in Wales, giving the key note address at a 250-strong conference on scrutiny in Cardiff. As some of you will know, CfPS started delivering a major new programme in Wales earlier this year on behalf of the Welsh government, and we were supporting this conference as part of the programme, along with partners, the Wales Audit Office, Welsh Government, Welsh LGA and Cardiff Business School.

There were CfPS workshops on our Return on Investment model for demonstrating the impact of scrutiny reviews, an excellent closing summation from TiGilling, and I was chairing the conference overall. With a wide range of workshops, including one from the always engaging Catherine Howe of Public-i, and a spell-binding presentation from Peter Watkin Jones, solicitor to the Francis Inquiry, there was plenty on the agenda to justify so many delegates taking a whole day out to come.

What I found particularly encouraging was the palpable sense of energy and determination in the room. Despite notable Welsh scrutiny successes such as Cardiff’s review of the night time economy, and reviews described on the day such as Wrexham’s review of markets and Swansea’s review of support for care leavers, a number of councils in Wales have struggled to raise scrutiny’s game. However, I would say that the conference last week was a watershed moment in building a new consensus that poor or average standards of scrutiny should no longer be tolerated in Wales.  This was a (large) room full of people who were up for change and positive about ensuring member scrutiny is in a fit state to help public services across Wales to address the challenges they will face over the coming years.

We heard a delegate from Anglesey / Ynys Mon saying that he had been “inspired” to go back and rethink how they do things and a great challenge from another councillor about how to develop a strong brand for scrutiny in Wales, and saw a rush on the CfPS stall over lunch, with copies of Tipping the Scales – our guide to the Return on Investment through scrutiny model – flying off the table. It wasn’t all cosy or self-congratulatory either. I heard from an opposition councillor who was apparently the only scrutiny member present from his authority and who told me how scrutiny was struggling to break out of majority group control, and from members who would have liked more recognition of the steps taken (with CfPS support) to improve scrutiny in the National Parks Authorities in Wales.

But overall, I was left with a really strong impression of the emergence of what the Minister called a “visionary and dedicated scrutiny community” in Wales. So what lies behind this ‘Somewhere over the Rainbow’ vision? I think there are several drivers:

  • Genuine political commitment and interest from the Minister for Local Government, who has made a point of visiting Welsh councils and talking directly to elected councillors – and who has backed up this interest with real investment for improvement – the CfPS programme but also the Scrutiny Development Fund which is funding scrutiny innovations across Wales;
  • A renewed interest in the potential of scrutiny to support service improvement and stronger accountability from regulators such as the Welsh Audit Office, whose major study of scrutiny across Wales, based on a learning through peer review methodology, will be launched shortly;
  • A recognition that public services in Wales need to reform and adapt to the challenge of austerity and changing social demands and expectations, and an acknowledgement that an inclusive democratic scrutiny process can help build support and acceptance of the need for change – by involving citizens and service-users in developing solutions alongside decision-makers.

It’s early days, and forthcoming steps such as the development of a set of agreed ‘Characteristics of Effective Scrutiny” for regulators and politicians, which CfPS has been supporting the Welsh Scrutiny Officer Network to develop off the back of the WAO study, will help take things on to the next phase. The biggest message which I sought to leave the conference with was the need for Welsh scrutineers to drive greater consistency and to raise all scrutiny practice to the standards of the best. With the challenges public services and communities are facing, average or inconsistent scrutiny will not be enough: we need colleagues to challenge poor practice, to be self-critical and to learn from others’ experience of what works.

Come to think of it, that’s a good message for scrutineers across England (and elsewhere) too. And you don’t need to wear ruby slippers or click your heels together – you can follow the debates from the conference on Twitter using hashtag #scrutiny13, (with the highlights handily collected together on Storify), read the WAO Good Practice blog for a range of contributors’ thoughts, watch videos of interviews with some of the speakers on Vimeo, and find out more generally on the WAO website.

Peidiwch â phrynu caledwedd

Defnydd effeithiol o Dechnoleg Gwybodaeth

Ni gyd yn caru fe. Mae ‘na goleuadau sy’n fflachio ar galedwedd, llinellau cŵl, ac mae’n edrych yn hynod o dda wrth iddo fe hymian mewn raciau. Mae’n creu argraff ar ddieithriaid, ac mae’n dilysu ni fel arbenigwyr. Mae fe hefyd yn ddrud iawn ac mae’n cael ei danddefnyddio’n fodd anhygoel. Fe wnaeth Google (ie, y Google yna) darganfod yn y 2000au cynnar bod eu canolfannau data yn rhedeg ar 10% o’r uchafswm posibl. Mae lot o’r sector cyhoeddus yn y DU yn llawer gwaeth, gyda Swyddfa’r Cabinet yn awgrymu bod rhai ohonom yn defnyddio cyn lleied â 5% o’n hasedau mwyaf drud.

Gofynnwch i unrhyw Bennaeth Technoleg Gwybodaeth pam maen nhw’n gwario siwd gymaint ar galedwedd a byddant yn dweud “wel, bydd e ddim yn gweithio hebddo”, neu os yw’r Pennaeth Technoleg Gwybodaeth gyda MBA byddai nhw’n dweud “mae’r caledwedd yn ganolog i’n cenhadaeth”. Sy’n codi cwestiwn diddorol – pam ydyn ni’n teimlo bod angen prynu’r modd o gynhyrchu ar gyfer cyfrifiadura, pan does gennym ddim amheuaeth o gwbl amdano brynu trydan neu ddŵr?

Yn ôl ym mis Medi fe wnaeth dros 60 o arbenigwyr Technoleg Gwybodaeth, a fi, cyfarfod mewn seminarau Swyddfa Archwilio Cymru yng Ngogledd a De Cymru i rannu arfer da (sef, ‘dwgyd syniadau’) a gobeithio, herio eu rhagdybiaethau. Rwy’n hoffi her dda i’m rhagdybiaethau, ond fe wnaeth yr amheuon o amgylch Cyfrifiadura Cwmwl dim jyst herio fy rhagdybiaethau ond eu mygio!

Cloud Computing / Cyfrifiadura Cwmwl

Roedd ‘na lot o resymau yn cael eu rhestri amdano pam dylai chi ddim mabwysiadu’r cwmwl. Mae diogelwch. Bydd pawb yn gallu cyrchu eich data. Mae’r rheoliad, ac fe fydd Americanwyr yn arestio eich Prif Weithredwr ……. ond wedyn, does ‘na ddim goleuadau yn fflachio oes ‘na? Dyw hyn o reidrwydd yn wir. Wrth gwrs gallwch greu llanast o faterion diogelwch ar y cwmwl yn yr un ffordd a gallwch adael eich diogelwch mewn hash os da chi’n trio, ond does dim rheswm go iawn pam dylech.

Rwy’n hoffi cyfrifiadura hawdd. Rwy’n hoffi darparu gwasanaeth sydd jyst yn gweithio. Dydw i ddim eisiau rhedeg canolfan data yn yr un ffordd dydw i ddim eisiau rhedeg gorsaf bŵer neu reoli cronfa ddŵr. I mi, mae Cyfrifiadura Cwmwl yn cynnig cyfle i brynu’r faint dymunaf, pryd mai’i angen arnaf. Dim mwy o le nag sydd angen.

Dyw e ddim yn hawdd i ni fel proffesiwn. Ni’n tueddu i feddwl amdano Dechnoleg Gwybodaeth fel ymarfer mewn rheoli caledwedd, yn hytrach na gwasanaeth i gwsmeriaid.

Dyma ymarfer i chi. Dychmygwch fod eich Prif Weithredwr wedi gwahardd prynu unrhyw beth corfforol o gwbl. Mae’n hawdd prynu’r ddarpariaeth o weinydd trwy’r cwmwl (ac yn wir, yn hawdd ar gyfer y sector cyhoeddus drwy G-Cloud), cysylltedd â wal dân – tic, meddalwedd fel gwasanaeth – tic, dyfeisiau defnyddwyr? Mae hwn yn fwy o broblem, ond gallai strategaeth BYOD da datrys hynny. Yn wir, os oes ganddo’ch signal ffôn symudol da (a gallwch hyd yn oed ffeindio ffordd o amgylch hynny), does dim angen rhwydwaith yr adeilad arno’ch chwaith.

Wrth gwrs, does dim lot mewn bywyd yn syml, a dyw hwn ddim yn syml chwaith. Ond mae’n werth ystyried , ‘Faint byddai fe’n costio fi os dydw i ddim yn uwchraddio hon, ond yn hytrach yn ei brynu fel gwasanaeth ar-lein yn lle?’

Mae’n costio llawer i gadw pob un o’r gweinyddwyr yn gynnes, wedi’i bwydo, eu hanwesu a’u caru. Efallai bod hyn yn swnio fel heresi, ond gallech chi wneud yn well, yn rhatach, ‘da llai o ymrwymiadau os ‘da chi’n  prynu’r gwasanaeth trwy’r cwmwl?

Dim bod da fi obsesiwn bach neu unrhyw beth, ond ar 13 Rhagfyr byddaf yn trafod cyfrifiadura cwmwl: y chwedlau, wedi chwalu, gyda Peter Middleton o raglen G-Cloud Swyddfa’r Cabinet. Roedd 2013 yn flwyddyn allweddol ar gyfer y gwasanaeth cyhoeddus, yn flwyddyn dyngedfennol wrth gydnabod na allwn barhau i ddarparu o dan y model presennol. Rhaid i ni fod yn fwy craff, yn fwy cydweithredol, yn rhatach, ac yn syml yn well yn yr hyn ni’n gwneud. Amser i chwalu rhai o’r chwedlau.

– Evan Jones, Llywodraeth Cymru

Don’t buy hardware

Effective use of Information Technology

We all love it.  Hardware has flashing lights, cool lines, and looks really good in racks, humming away.  It impresses strangers; validates us as experts.   It’s also wildly expensive and fantastically underused.  Google (yes, that Google) discovered on the early 2000’s that their data centres were running at 10% of their potential maximum.  Much of the UK public sector is a lot worse with the Cabinet Office suggesting that some of us get as little as 5% utilisation of our most expensive assets.

Ask any IT Head why they spend gazillions on hardware and they’ll say “well, it won’t work without it”, or if the IT Head has an MBA he’ll say “the hardware is central to our mission”. Which raises an interesting question – why do we feel it necessary to buy the means of production for computing when we have no qualms at all about buying-in electricity, or water for that matter?

Back in September over 60 IT specialists, and me, met at WAO seminars in both North and South Wales to share good practice (viz, ‘nick ideas’) and, hopefully, have their preconceptions challenged. I like a good challenge to my preconceptions and the scepticism around Cloud Computing was not so much challenging my preconceptions as mugging them.

Cloud Computing / Cyfrifiadura Cwmwl

There were a lot of reasons why not to adopt Cloud. There’s security.  Everyone will have access to your data. There’s regulation, the Americans will arrest your Chief Executive……. and, well, there’s no flashing lights are there? None of this is necessarily true.  Of course you can mess up security on the cloud in the same way you can leave your own security in a hash if you try, but there’s no real reason why you should, particularly.

I like easy computing. I like to provide a service that just works.  I don’t want to run a datacentre any more than I want to run a power station or manage a reservoir. For me, Cloud Computing offers a chance to buy just as much as I want, when I want it. Period, as the Americans say.  No more capacity than I need.

This isn’t easy for us as a profession. We tend to think of IT as being an exercise in hardware management, rather than service to customers.

Here’s a thought exercise. Imagine your Chief Executive has banned the purchase of anything physical at all. Server provision is easy to purchase through the cloud (and really easy for the public sector through g-cloud), connectivity and firewalls – tick, software as a service – tick, end user devices? More problematic but a good BYOD strategy should see to that. In fact, if you’ve got decent mobile signal coverage (and you can even get around that) you don’t need the building network either.

Of course, little in life is simple, and that isn’t exactly simple either. But it’s worth considering, how much will it cost me if I don’t buy this upgrade but buy it as an on-line service?

It costs a lot to keep all of those servers warm, fed, stroked, and loved.  It might sound like heresy but could you do better, cheaper, with fewer commitments if you bought the service through the cloud?

Not that I’m mildly obsessed, or anything, but on 13 December I’ll be discussing cloud computing: the myths, busted, with Peter Middleton from the Cabinet Office’s g-cloud programme. 2013 has been a pivotal year for public service, a pivotal year in recognising that we cannot continue to deliver under the current model.  We need to be smarter, more collaborative, cheaper, simply better at what we do. Time to ditch some myths.

– Evan Jones, Welsh Government