Review of the BBC’s management of the Digital Media Initiative – DMI

Wednesday 18 December 2013, 11:35

Dominic Coles Dominic Coles BBC Director of Operations

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When I took over as Director of Operations in October 2012, I paused spend on the BBC’s Digital Media Initiative (DMI) and initiated a technical review which resulted in the closure of the project in May 2013. The BBC Trust has today published a report by PwC focussing on the governance of the project.  We accept the findings of this report and the new executive leadership team is already addressing its recommendations.

The BBC has a strong record of delivering complex technology-enabled transformation projects such as the BBC iPlayer, High Definition on Freeview, the digital Olympics, BBC North, and the migration to New Broadcasting House which was recently judged as ‘Programme of the Year’ at the Association of Project Management Awards 2013. However we got DMI wrong, which we regret.  We know it is vital to spot problems early, which is why we have overhauled how our major projects are run to ensure this doesn't happen again.

The BBC Executive and the BBC Trust have just published the conclusions of a joint review of governance. The report sets out a number of changes which will strengthen the Executive Board by increasing the number of Non-Executive Directors from four to six, and will improve reporting so that performance can be monitored more effectively. A robust monthly reporting pack will be provided to Board, including an Integrated Assurance and Approvals Plan covering all major projects. Further information on the review can be found on the BBC Trust webite.

The Director-General has also announced he will be reducing the overall number of boards in the BBC by more than 60%, to be replaced with appropriately mandated senior individuals who will be empowered to take decisions and be held accountable for those decisions.

We are currently in the process of improving the guidelines we use for running major projects and we will be reviewing these again to reflect the recommendations included in the PwC report. We are also reviewing how we can better manage projects as a joined-up strategic portfolio and the capabilities needed to support this. We will continue to implement actions and apply lessons learned from DMI across our project portfolio.

Finally, we’re considering how we can best meet the BBC’s digital production needs in the future.

A new ‘End to End Digital’ project will fully reflect the lessons of DMI.  For example, the digital production challenge will be split up into separate, independent "bite size" steps, each of which will have benefits in their own right and will not be part of a single, "all or nothing" integrated technology solution - albeit with programme oversight ensuring consistency and compatibility across all areas of activity. This project, although only at the planning stage is, like all our others, subject to a new stringent project management control, including the setting of clear objectives that are directly linked to tangible business need.

Dominic Coles is Director of Operations.

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