Transparency, accountability, and IT success

There is a clear link between transparency and accountability in preventing mismanagement, inefficiency, and waste. The bright light of day can have remarkable impact solving problems that lead to IT failure.

There is a clear link between transparency and accountability in preventing mismanagement, inefficiency, and waste. The bright light of day can have remarkable impact solving problems that lead to IT failure.

Lack of transparency is particularly acute on IT failures, many of which involve inefficiency and waste hidden behind closed doors.

Recognizing the importance of transparency, U.S. federal CIO, Vivek Kundra, introduced an IT dashboard to shine light on government projects.

Related: Federal gov't gets serious about IT failures

In this video clip, Kundra describes the importance of transparency in reducing IT mismanagement and waste in the federal government. He discusses the dashboard's role in stopping or terminating a variety of late and over-budget projects.

You must jump to point 13m 50sec to see the relevant section in this video.

Strategic Analysis

Preventing IT failure is difficult for many reasons. To start, business people sometimes do not fully apprehend the technology consequences of their strategic decisions. As a consequence, they make decisions divorced from practical realities of execution and delivery.

I discussed this point with prolific author and project guru, Ed Yourdon, who said:

In many cases you find projects that are doomed from day one, not because of poor technical capabilities in the IT department, but because of strategic misunderstandings or misalignments. Senior management never really understood what the true cost was going to be, or the IT department never told them what the true cost was going to be, and senior management never really provided the organizational support that was going to be necessary to make it all work.

Making matters worse, keen observer J.P. Rangaswami, describes an enterprise ecosystem where important participants thrive on inefficiency and waste:

Over the years I’ve carried this learning into somewhat different contexts, particularly when it comes to project management and delivery. You see, I felt it was reasonable to consider all inefficiency as waste. As a consequence, when I observed an inefficient practice at work, I tried to identify the ecosystem participants for that waste, the people whose livelihoods depend on that waste. Because they were the ones most likely to push back against any change in work practices and processes. All projects are fundamentally about change, and unless such immune-system agents are identified and taken into account, project failure is likely.

Transparency is one of the most effective methods for reducing waste and bringing success to initiatives or programs. Neither mismanagement nor conflicts of interest can long survive in open environments that combine clarity and accountability.

Achieving these goals is difficult for many organizations. However, mere awareness of the goal is a great starting point for discussions that may eventually result in positive change.

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