A report by the Work Foundation in the UK is sharply critical of public sector ICT (information and communication technology) projects, saying that “too much recklessness blights government IT projects.”
The press release includes the following tidbits:
Contrary to the stereotype, public sector managers have sometimes been too gung-ho in their attitude to risk when developing and implementing information technology projects, wasting many millions of pounds of taxpayer’s money in the process.
The actual report is very well done and worth a read. You can download it here. (Note to self: remember to avoid grandstanding and inflammatory language designed to generate cheap controversy when writing press releases about IT reports.)
[T]oo many government ICT (information and communication technology) projects have been insufficiently piloted before being rolled out, are over-complex in design, ignore the advice of the staff who must use the systems, and try to solve too many problems at once, rather than build on systems that are already in place.
The report makes a range of recommendations. It argues public managers charged with developing and delivering ICT programmes should:
- Keep it simple: too many projects exhibit a desire to over-complicate, and to reinvent the wheel.
- Pilot first: large-scale ICT projects need to be trialled on a smaller scale before being rolled out more widely. Learning from previous projects is likely to bring greater success than trying something new.
- Don’t revise too much: ‘scope-creep’ occurs when the scope of a project is revised repeatedly – leaving policy makers and managers blaming each other for the failure
- Listen to staff: the advice of those who must use the system in their day-to-day work is of paramount importance
- Manage change better: if a process requires computerising, it is likely to require new ways of working as well. Allowing time and money for managing the change will ensure greater operational success