There have been a number of high profile cases recently where government IT projects have ended in failure. One of the worst examples of this in terms of mistakes made was the Child Support Agency in Britain where payments were calculated incorrectly in 85% of cases. Despite this the service was still operating for seven years. In Australia the death of an eleven year old boy could have been prevented if the Victoria Police Link project that was used to record crimes had been more effective. These are not the only cases of failures in IT projects and other well known companies such as the BBC, the US Air Force and Sky News have all had problems in the past.
There are a number of reasons why these sorts of projects may have failed.
The Complexity Of Business Processes
Governments may have grand ideas about what they want to achieve from the IT project but these ideas may not always be that achievable. The process that are involved may be far more complex than they need to be and this can lead to problems arising that could have been avoided.
Many of the decisions that are made regarding IT projects are made by business people rather than specialist IT staff. This means that the decisions that are made may not always be the best ones for the project and IT staff have very little control over this.
Risk Management And Governance
As explained above it may not be the IT staff that are actually in charge of the project. This leads to some confusion when trying to decide who is accountable for any problems that do occur and this means these problems can get worse before they are dealt with properly.
Poor Analysis Of Needs
Before the project has been the analysis of needs that has been carried out has not been sufficient which means that the project is never going to be able to achieve what it wants to. The project is unable to be successful because the aims are too unrealistic.
Not Addressing Changing Needs
Even if a thorough analysis has been carried out, the situation related to the aim of the project may have changed since then. Again, this leads to the aims of the project being unrealistic and not quite achievable.
Poor Customer Service
When an IT project has been developed, the customers that are going to be using the system may have received very little training. They may also be unsure of who to contact for help.
If an IT project fails it will usually be for a combination of the reasons discussed above. These problems may be made worse when it comes to government projects because there are further issues when trying to decide who is accountable for the problems that are being experienced and this leads to a delay in putting them right.