The slow death of DotP: can 'The Club' do better?

Almost unnoticed, the Directgov website has moved from its former CMS – ‘DotP’, or ‘delivering on the promise’ – to its new Stellent-based platform, developed by Xansa. Like its predecessor, the Stellent system is intended to be the uber-platform for all government departments; Directgov will shortly be joined in the so-called Club by the Dept of Health, with Education supposed to follow along shortly (although that work is well behind schedule).

There’s an interesting post by Alan Mather reflecting on DotP’s four-year journey. Perhaps inevitably, there’s a slightly bitter tone (I think?), particularly in the conclusion: ‘You’ve spent 30 months creating a site that is the same as the old one; I’m looking forward to seeing what new things can be done with the new service that couldn’t be done with the old one.’

My understanding is that simple running cost, rather than scope for any extra functionality, was the main reason for the move. But the main challenge for The Club going forward is to extend its membership – and that will require both a carrot and a stick. Make it too good an offer to refuse: great functionality, rapid deployment, low cost. But be prepared to play the Transformational Government card if necessary.

I played some part in developing the specs for the Club platform, with a particular focus on RSS and all that entails. No sign of that work yet on Directgov – and as I said earlier about Transport, I’m shocked to see a major new platform going live without RSS. But if my spec survives the review process, I think the functionality will be a pleasant surprise.