Headlines: February 23rd, 2000

Following a rise in the failure of major IT projects last year the Central IT Unit in the Cabinet Office launched a review to find ways of preventing disasters such as the failure of the Passport Office system. The Review Team is examining public and private sector projects, as well as international experience to identify the causes of failure and the ingredients of success.Because the findings will not be available for some months, an interim Plan has been published. It addresses the problem facing project managers of the once in a lifetime challenge to manage a project far larger than anything experienced previously and unlikely to be experienced again in the remainder of a career. In future major projects will be subjected to Peer Reviews at the planning stage to provide assurance that the project is safe to go ahead. A system is also being set up to share knowledge about IT projects so everyone can benefit from best practice experience.

Other features of the Plan are that ministers will take a strong role in major projects and suppliers will have to produce detailed plans to show how they will deliver the system.

The Computing Services and Software Association is also carrying out an independent study of the causes of IT project failure and success and their findings will be fed into the Central IT Unit report.