back to article UK IT projects must pull up socks, says hefty maven

The UK coalition government will have to ensure fewer failed public sector IT projects in the future if it wants to avoid a public backlash, according to the former boss of the Office of Government Commerce (OGC) Sir Peter Gershon. Speaking at the Association for Project Management conference in London last Thursday he said: " …

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Not quite true

"Green's report claims that the Government is losing billions every year by failing to negotiate the best deals."

The claim isn't true. The trouble is that Government procurement is so obsessed with political correctness and trying to tie down suppliers that it doesn't ask the right questions. It usually doesn't know the right questions to ask, but is afraid to engage a potential supplier in a pre-procurement scoping exercise to more accurately determine the project approach and a viable requirements set.

The tenderers then bid against ill-defined and/or irrelevant requirements,dooming the project before it's even begun. Price is also generally considered separately to quality, often assessed by different reviewing panels. Consequently there's little appreciation of when a higher-priced product is offering better value. Astonishingly, Government always loses at this game:it never seems to luck into a good product at a low price.

Finally, there's too much risk aversion in the whole process. this leads to a constricted approach all the way through, and doesn't allow the brains (on both sides) to be able to navigate project obstacles efficiently. If everyone involved was more concerned with doing it right, and not so concerned with covering their own arse, then projects would run more smoothly.

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Anonymous Coward

@AC

Political correctness indeed - cause of the EU and its procurement laws sometimes appear to get in the way?

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Grenade

"Actually I quite like learning from failure. I think we learn a lot that way."

That a pretty much vertical curve for our Government! Gershon's completely missed the point when he talks about skills shortages for starters; the governemnt spends far too much money on overpriced consultancy becuase there's no-one in governement with the sufficent knowledge of IT.

What they should be doing is bringing some real skilled technical staff in on a permanent basis to deliver existing projects so they can stop paying the consultants. His comment that there will be a skills shortage a result of job losses is complete tosh, the already is a skills shortage and now they need to shed jobs they'll have to carry on paying hand over fist.

That and his "I'm not going comment on procurement, I'm doing project management is a) a spineless cop out and b) indictative of the asre-covering nature of ministers and c) a damning indictment of how blinkered they are, without visibilty of the wider picture nothing will change.

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Growing in house skills

Old fashioned idea. Still popular in some places.

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Flame

"public projects....have greater accountability,...."

Really?

Heard much about the public censuring of those running NHS IT (£15Bn and counting)

Identity card scheme? You can bet the vermin who proposed this are still very much in place.

Interception modernisation programme (Yes it's just started but a £12Bn *minimum* budget was the *only* estimate ever issued so you know it's going to rise and I'd suggest the snoop boxes at ISP's will be from BAe's Dettica subsidiary as virtually a done deal virually guarantees cost overruns )

Governments *love* big ideas. That urge to leave your programme in a department "Look at my works and tremble" afflicts all second raters and a few first raters.

A little more naming and shaming would not be unreasonable.

One point that has been made over and *over* again is you don't buy IT to install IT, you buy it to make organisational *change*.

Start with the *change* objective and figure out where and how (if *any*) IT systems (hardware or software) need to be introduced or altered.

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Well said....

...by a man far removed from the reality of actually making things happen.

Bah humbug.

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FAIL

I admire his optimism.

"Failed projects will have an implication on how the public views the government."

Well they've never given a flying fuck to date and I look forward to this entirely sensible change in attitude from the Great Unwashed. Just don't expect me to hold my breath.

"This means the media often has a field day."

Presumably he either means Private Eye or a "media field day" has been extended in scope to include 2 column inches on page 24 and an op-ed article on slow news day.

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How much did he get paid for spouting these obvious generalities?

I'd do it for lunch and bus fare.

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APM

Speakers fees

To clarify - we don't pay speakers to speak at the APM Conference, although we do supply lunch ;)

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How much did he get paid?

... a knighthood for his work on public procurement and regular fees from the Efficiency Board which was set up by the ERG.

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APM

Highlights of Sir Peter Gershon's session

A clip with highlights of Sir Peter's session can be found at http://www.apm5dimensions.com/news/apm-conference-reflects-spending-review

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Actually I quite like learning from failure. I think we learn a lot that way

Wow! "we" must know so much by now it must be quite a challenge finding new ways to fail.

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It's not the *scale* of the fails. It's the *predicatability*

The *same* top 10 reasons for IT project failures, rotating around each other.

Over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over again.

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