Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Sign up for change

The Independent has recently published an article highlighting the state of the UK Government's IT projects. Let's just say that it's not a success story:

...the total cost of Labour's 10 most notorious IT failures is equivalent to more than half of the budget for Britain's schools last year. Parliament's spending watchdog has described the projects as "fundamentally flawed" and blamed ministers for "stupendous incompetence" in managing them.

Think about it. That's £26 billion of taxpayers' money down the drain because of "fundamentally flawed" projects and "stupendous incompetence". Putting this into context, university funding is being cut by a mere £449 million next year - so we are cutting investment in our future, while frittering away £26 billion on avoidable failures. Epic Fail.

I have already suggested that these failures are likely to have been entirely avoidable. So have others. But there needs to be a fundamental change in the way that Government IT projects are run.

Rob Bowley has started a petition to Number 10 to try and raise the profile of this problem with the Government. It reads:

We the undersigned are tired of hearing how much of our money is being blown on failed governemt IT projects.

We believe that this is mainly due to the nature in which these projects are firstly procured and then delivered - that of demanding and committing to all the requirements for enormous projects up front, consigning them to failure before they have even begun.

The private sector has mostly moved away from this failed model to an incremental approach, which allows for changes in understanding and requirements and enormously reduces the chances of failure. It's about time our government did too.

We ask the Prime Minister to demand a review of the current approach and look at adopting a more incremental and agile approach to Government IT projects

Whether it makes a difference only time will tell, but I urge anyone who cares about public sector IT development to sign it. Any journey starts with a first step, and this might be it.

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