Friday, May 29, 2015

Isn’t It Wonderful How Politicians Can Tell The Truth After Leaving Parliament. This Analysis Is Surely True And We Should All Learn From It!

This appeared a few days ago:

Queensland govt bought wrong IBM product for Health IT: Bligh

Summary: Former Queensland Premier Anna Bligh has acknowledged that when the state government partnered with IBM to roll out its new health payroll system in 2010, it bought the wrong one.
By Aimee Chanthadavong | May 19, 2015 -- 02:05 GMT (12:05 AEST)
No one ever got fired for buying IBM, the adage goes, but what if you purchase the wrong item from Big Blue?
Former Queensland Premier Anna Bligh has admitted the Queensland government was at fault for malfunction of the state's AU$1.2 billion health payroll system in 2010, and it was not the failure of hardware or software.
Speaking at the Gartner IT Infrastructure, Operations, and Datacentre Summit on Tuesday, Bligh said the implementation of the then-new payroll system by IBM was a "catastrophic disaster", which saw 74,000 health staff overpaid, underpaid, or not paid at all.
"The single biggest failure of the project was failure around managing the program and governance of it," she said.
"There was no real clarity of governance. There was one part of the government that was responsible for whole of government IT in a shared service provider model, and then we had the line agency Queensland Health," the former premier said.
"Between those two agencies there was not a single point of accountability. So everybody was in charge, which ultimately meant nobody was."
As a result, Queensland Health was led to believe that it was buying a one-for-one replacement of its previous system, Bligh said.
Lots more here:
The bold three paragraphs say it all!
The question we would all to know the answer to is just why it takes politicians to leave office for them to know what is going / has gone wrong and not do something about issues that are inevitably identified in any Project Management 101 course!
Scattered accountability and multiple points of influence are things that ensure IT projects have a dramatically higher risk of failure, as was seem in Queensland.
I wonder what Nicola Roxon would say about the PCEHR today. Sadly I fear she might think it was a wonderfully conducted project that was sabotaged by this lazy, greedy and non-caring doctors who would not use her perfect system! She, of course, as the nation’s second worst health Minister ever, is dead wrong. The PCEHR was , and still is, a dog.


Bernard Robertson-Dunn said...


More quotes from that article worth referencing:

"We basically got the product we bought, but we bought the wrong one, or we bought one that was not fit for purpose."

Bligh added the government failed to take into account the complexity of the job ....

[IOW, the wrong solution to a problem they didn't understand. brd]

"There was (sic) so many people who had been so close to this project, both in IBM and SAP, and within the government agencies, when it came time to unpick what was wrong they couldn't see it, and they were very unwilling to allow themselves to contemplate that they might have made a mistake," she said.

[Replace IBM/SAP with Accenture etc and you have the PCEHR.

The root cause is that the government decides it knows the answer and the RFT/procurement process doesn't allow for a reassessment of the suitability of the solution. As has been pointed out before, IT companies work to the letter of the requirements in the contract. Requirements define solutions, not problems.

IMHO, the failure of big IT projects like this always comes down to two things:

1) The buyer is arrogant enough to think they know the answer (but don't) and

2) The IT industry is only interested in selling solutions (but can't tell if the buyer has specified the right solution).

Will anyone in Federal Health learn from all this? Answers on a postcard to Minister Ley


Anonymous said...

Sussan Ley is not the problem. The bureaucrats are. If only she would open her mind and reach out beyond their controlling influence we just might avoid a repeat of another PCEHR disaster. The eHealth briefings this week by Paul Madden left one devoid of any confidence.

Bernard Robertson-Dunn said...

"Sussan Ley is not the problem. The bureaucrats are."

Which is why I suggested that answers should be sent to her, not the bureaucrats.

Anonymous said...

Bernard, I doubt the mail would get through. In the normal course of events whatever is sent to the Minister is first filtered by bureaucrats in her office. Sometimes it is shown to her, sometimes it is dealt with by the bureaucrat in her office, sometimes it is sent to the Department of Health to be dealt with on her behalf. She receives an enormous volume of 'correspondence' every day, she can't hope to deal with it all herself. I don't know if things have changed since Ms Halton 'moved' on but if not the the Department has a bureaucrat or two secreted in the Minister's office ostensibly to provide a 'link' between the Minister and her Department. Dare I suggest such bureaucrats (employed by the Department) might have another role.

Bernard Robertson-Dunn said...

There are always several ways to get to an MP/minister. She will have political advisers (MoPS), she has an electoral office, there are senate hearings (which means going through a receptive senator) and there is always through the media. It's difficult but not impossible.

On the last two, the senate and the media, Renai LeMay of Delimiter tried to make a difference from inside but has given up. He's now writing a croudsourced book The Frustrated State: How terrible tech policy is deterring digital Australia
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K said...

It's not just terrible tech policy. Our politicians are a disgrace. Just listen to Question time. Our only hope is that this lot are the dregs and soon we'll have some real politicians to vote for.

Bernard Robertson-Dunn said...

Hope is not a good strategy
New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani

Every nation gets the government it deserves
Joseph-Marie, comte de Maistre 1753–1821

For better or worse, the politicians are our representatives. If we don't like them or we don't like what they do, it's up to us, the people, to change them.

And to relate this rant to Health, have a read of Peter Hartcher

Two ex health ministers show their values and competence when it comes to proposing solutions to problems.

Defending against the threat of terrorism is a good thing. Solutions that a) won't work and b) even worse, achieve the opposite of what is intended by increasing fear and intimidation, demonstrate a lack of clear thinking.