Headlines: May 23rd, 2000

Criticism of a string of failed IT projects prompted the Cabinet Office to review why some projects succeed while others fail. The review team has now produced a failure avoidance guide based on an analysis of projects in the public and private sectors in the UK and abroad and on a parallel study by the Computing Software and Services Association.A major cause of failure was that IT projects were viewed as something ‘technical’ and they tended to be treated in isolation to other aspects of the work of the organisation. This resulted in limited senior management involvement. The report stresses that projects are part of the whole process of business change and that both the involvement and commitment of senior managers are critical success factors.

Research by the team also found a need for stronger leadership of projects and clearer lines of responsibility. The report recommends that each project should have a senior responsible owner to streamline decision making and banish confusion about who reports where and who takes responsibility. Professional development events will be held for Ministers and senior civil servants. They will be organised by the Centre for Management and Policy Studies.

The report was welcomed by David Davies, Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee. He said: ” I am particularly glad that in future senior civil servants will be clearly accountable for the extent to which they have applied the guidance and will have to sign annual statements to that effect. This will enhance transparency and is likely to prompt better governance of IT projects.”

Link: www.citu.gov.uk/itprojectsreview.ht