The forms (CB201) were completed by individual technicians (deliberately not identified) at depots and sub depots and forwarded to M.P.G. Weyhill. From here they were sent, in bulk, to a contractor where they were ‘read’ and the resulting data transferred to tape. The next stage in the process was for the tape to be ‘read’ and converted into statistical data. Who actually did this escapes me, I don’t think it was done at Weyhill. Although at this time there was a D.E.C. PDP11 computer at Weyhill, it was used as a tool for remotely carrying out test procedures on VDUs in for repair at the various depots (i.e. a test rig). Its main i/p device was a paper tape reader and hard copy o/p was achieved with a teleprinter.
The day to day operation of the system was under the control of an SWT, originally a chap by the name of Martin Thomson-Neil, he was an enthusiastic sailor in his spare time and later worked at Tavistock. He was succeeded by David Greenwood.
Line management was in the hands of the M.P.G. C.W.T. (myself for a time) and later, Dave Cahill.
- DTels HQ; the system was slow to produce usable data because the system could only produce an output from the information that was put in (i.e. data from the depots) see 2 and 3.
- Field Service Staff/Technicians;
Field Service Staff/Management; only one R.W.E., to my knowledge, completely supported the aims of the system.
- Stated; the System was too complicated and CB201 forms took too much time to fill in.
- Not Stated; smacks of Big Brother. Although individuals were not identified, it was seen as a system by which H.Q. could assess the performance of work groups
Field Service M.P.G; was ‘piggy in the middle’ To meet the requirements of Dtels H.Q., better and more accurate information had to be supplied by the depots. Depots were reluctant to supply for reasons given in 2 (my own assessment - not official). David Greenwood’s request, in the introduction to the Form CB201 guide book*, was an attempt to encourage the depot staff to get more involved in the reduction of poor input information.
- Not Stated; effectiveness of each individual depot/sub depot could be determined (league tables!). Local managers preferred the Area Office/Depot method of oversight and supervision.
* the booklet published on Page 4 is a revision of an earlier edition of this book
After a period (I can’t remember how long the system was in operation) of mixed performance things came to a head when the Civil Service Union got involved. They complained that the system had been introduced without sufficient consultation and approval by them or their members.
Whatever the merits of this case, (my own personal view was that it was seen, by its opponents, to be the only effective way of challenging the system) the directing staff at the time saw the system as a way of letting the managers, manage.
I recall the subject being on the agenda at the regular meeting between the DTels directing staff and the C.S.U. However, an agreement on the future course of the system was not achieved. In the end, it was decided that instead of bringing up the subject of the job card system at the regular meetings, an extra meeting would be held with just this item on the agenda.
The Director, at the time, was John Cubberley. Unfortunately he suffered from ill health and died quite suddenly. His temporary replacement was Jack Hallett, like John Cubberley an ex-Army senior officer, and it fell to him to chair the crucial meeting to discuss the job card system.
At this meeting, the Union put their case and after one or two queries were cleared up, Mr. Hallett announced to the meeting that the job card system would be terminated once matters relating to contracts had been dealt with.
Mr. Hallett obviously had his own reasons for making this decision but I don’t think I was alone in being completely taken by surprise. My guess was that it was a bargaining chip in other ongoing negotiations with the C.S.U.
Although the job card system was flawed in its execution, the principle of gathering and analysing data in this way is a cornerstone of efficient business practice. As in all walks of life, people respond badly to change, particularly if it attacks a traditional way of doing things.
The analysis of information from depots, if so desired by senior management, could have illustrated the productivity of individual work groups, the ability of local managers to run their depots in an effective manner and provide data to support increasing/decreasing staffing levels.
However, this was not its purpose. It was a tool to gain information on operational equipment and related matters.
I admit to being the originator of the cartoon on the inside back cover and the provider of the caption for that on the inside front cover. I can now reveal (after 30+ years) that ‘Wilf’ refers to Wilf Bridger, a friend and colleague at Hannington and ‘Jim’ to Jim Woodmansey, one time Deputy Director (Field Services).
All opinions, guesses, surmises and accusations, real or implied, are mine and mine only!
ADDENDUM by Steven R. Cole
Are you old enough to remember completing the CB201 job sheet? I seem to recall them being printed on high quality paper, I think to help prevent bending and improve image quality when scanned by the optical reader.
A corresponding booklet was produced by Maintenance Planning Group to describe how the CB201 Job Cards were to be completed and provide other important detail.
Both are contained in the download file listed in the menu on this page.
Acknowledgement: Derek Theobald for the article and two cartoons that appeared in a booklet produced by Maintenance Planning Group