When will they ever learn, when will they ever learn II*

Justice IT project 9 years late

I wrote in March this year saying “we must learn from our mistakes, and our successes”. I read many organisations are trying to learn however, I really do wonder if this is the case.

The above headline appeared over the internet and resulted in a review by the Auditor General in Melbourne Australia. In brief:

  • a computer project which was supposed to deliver in November 2000 is not yet operational
  • the original $14million budget for the programme has increased to $54 according to a report before parliament
  • the distribution of documents designed to help parties communicate before they enter the courtroom is not yet operating and will not be until 2009

I do not delight in giving you these facts, indeed as I type this it depresses me. Another project that has failed to deliver on time and to budget and to client requirements. I repeat, we must learn from our mistakes….but whose and how?

Well, here are some pointers from the Auditor General on this project. I hope they help you.He said:

  1. there was a failure early on to properly fund the project
  2. there were problems with contractor performance and conflicting commitment by agencies
  3. there was a failure to identify and secure sufficient funding at the outset. He commented that this was attributed to an inadequate business case
  4. he identified that the complexity of the project was underestimated

One interesting point is that the report from the Auditor General follows a similar finding by the Auditor General in April when a £320 million IT programme to streamline Victoria’s health system was running late and over budget with no reliable measure to ever know its full cost.

My drive is to ensure that projects are delivered on time, to budget and with the right results. Senior managers and in the case of the projects cited here, politicians need to learn from their very expensive mistakes, however, I’m not sure what effort is put in place to make sure this happens.

Is there a process for your organisation where you can learn and not waste time, money and really deliver?

* words to a song http://www.volcano.net/~jackmearl/songs/wsongs/where_have_all_the_flowers_gone.html by Pete Seeger

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