Philadelphia has finally finished it's ill-fated water utility billing system, called Project Ocean. Following a series of high-profile failures, with costs that approaching $47 million, the final phase was complete on-time and under-budget.
To complete the project, Philadelphia dumped most of its planned Oracle applications, and went with off the shelf software from Prophecy International PTY in Adelaide, Australia. According to Computerworld:
Project Ocean started in 2002 with Oracle on board, but work was stopped in October 2005 after the city spent $18.9 million, twice what it expected to spend. The city signed an amendment to Oracle's contract in which Oracle agreed to pay or forgive $6.9 million of those costs to fund the revived Project Ocean.
Philadelphia' CIO, Terry Phillis, said he learned that:
"[T]echnology is not the prime concern in being successful in a project of this size." Instead, he said, success is a matter of "process, collaboration and leadership," although he said it is obvious that "the technology has to work and it has to match your skill sets."
A year ago, he said, "we had to spend a lot of time upfront deciding how to run this and how to collaborate between three departments."
Huh? The CIO of a major US city, overseeing a budget of millions of dollars, has only now learned that technology isn't the primary driver of IT success and failure? Shaking my head in disbelief as I write this.