Thursday, September 23, 2010

You May Want To Look Through This Article on IT Governance - Some Useful Points.

Regular readers will know that I bang on endlessly about governance and its importance in successful project delivery.

It is good to hand the baton to someone else for a moment!

When IT governance goes wrong

Stories from the trenches of government IT staff

Inefficient IT projects are the bugbear of every IT manager.

Speaking the World Computer Congress 2010 in Brisbane, manager of Griffith University’s internal audit office, Cathy Blunt , provided an interesting insight into the main contributing factors to failed or inefficient IT products in government agencies. The public university has undergone internal changes to prevent similar failures, although Blunt wasn’t shy of self-criticism in her review of what sends government IT projects over the edge. Here are some of her thoughts.

Strategic Alignment

“The one that’s probably got the most press coverage over the last few months has been the Queensland Health payroll system. There’s a Queensland auditor’s report about that — it’s well worth a read. It will keep you awake at night for a little while if nothing else.

“In terms of strategic alignment there are a couple of things that the Queensland Audit Office included in their report: There were unclear roles and responsibilities, particularly those in Queensland Health and the people within CorpTech responsible for actually delivering the system, as well as IBM, the service delivery partner with CorpTech. The responsibility between those and who was responsible for the project outcomes was very unclear.

“There was also a lack of strategic outcomes as to what it was they were trying to deliver. Queensland Audit Office quite roundly criticised Queensland Health for not reviewing the awards for their staff before they tried to implement the system to try and reduce the number of awards that were captured in the payroll system they were delivering.

“The [Queensland] Department of Employment and Training was also hit with the same Queensland Audit Office report — they didn’t just want to pick on Queensland Health — and they were criticised for their IT Governance framework not being documented.

“Just to show that auditors don’t always get it right, the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) was reviewed by KPMG and was criticised for needing better alignment needed between its key risks and IT strategic plan.”


Blunt also shared some of the issues she has found after spending four years internally auditing projects at Griffith University:

  • Lack of formal IT risk assessment frameworks and registers
  • Project methodology not always followed
  • Project benefits realisation not identified and monitored
  • IT Governance committees not working effectively
  • Business agenda does not always meet best practices or expectations
  • IT policies and procedures no implemented consistently

Read the middle of the article here:

Reading this closely it seems to me a key lesson is that an independent audit of IT projects every few years - while being annoying for those involved - can be invaluable in keeping focus on where the team is heading and what it is meant to be delivering.

I am sure we can all think of an organisation or two where this approach may very well help and head of the odd delay and disaster.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...


About 20 years ago I attended a seminar given by Sun Computers, and the presenters explained that Sun's design and management of IT projects was based on 6x6 - 6 people, 6 months. More people, management consumed more resources than the extra staff provided; more time, the requirements changed significantly enough that a redesign was required.

I tried to use that approach in my own IT work, and I'm happy to attest that progress through small steps works. I'm aware of the contrary argument, that you can't cross the Grand Canyon in small steps -- my response is that you should be using the steps to move sideways to where the canyon can be crossed. (Incidentally, Canberra recently had a very good example of over-ambitious bridging -- resulting in the Barton Highway being blocked for several weeks!)

I don't believe in multi-year IT projects, therefore I don't believe in project reviews every 3 or 4 years. Certainly, review your IT strategy within which the 6x6 projects are developed and managed, but keep the focus on achievable goals, not ever-retreating pie-in-the-sky stuff. That has been the real problem with NEHTA -- they're a bunch of academics with no real-world experience, and they look 10 years ahead, not 6 months.

Geoff Miller