We know that IT projects often go wrong, but it's a bit much for 10 of Victoria's major IT projects to do a face plant in the same decade. We tell you what made each of the projects bomb.
The Victorian Ombudsman has published a report on 10 major Victorian IT projects, providing case studies on those he looked at. We dissect his findings for you.
1. LEAP of faith
The first was Victoria Police's project to replace its LEAP database, which had been used since 1992 to record crime incidents, with a new system called LINK.
In 2005, spurred on by a previous ombudsman's report, the then-premier announced $50 million in funding for a three-year roll-out, and a business case was later completed that said it would cost $59 million to build. This business case, completed by an independent consultant, "grossly underestimated the cost and complexity of the project", according to the ombudsman, because the scope of the project had been written to fit the funding, instead of looking at how much it would cost to get what was actually needed.
A leadership vacuum (there were two people heading up the project with joint responsibility, one of which had inadequate experience, the ombudsman said) meant that it took almost four years for the Victoria Police to realise that the project would be at least $80 million over budget.
Meanwhile, the team took the off-the-shelf product that had been chosen, and over-customised it, so that it would replace LEAP's functionality, instead of addressing future policing requirements.
When a new business case was finally created early this year, it laid out that an additional $127.7 million in funding was required in addition to the original $59.48 million. However, after this, the project failed its first gateway review, because it hadn't taken future policing requirements into account, and the project was put on hold in August. The team now intends to ask the Cabinet budget committee for $12 million to develop a business case that would focus not only on the replacement of LEAP, but also on transforming Victoria Police into a modern policing organisation.
Takeaway: rushed business cases don't cut the mustard. Project experience is paramount.