Headlines: November 6th, 2002

Suppliers bidding for large scale central government information technology contracts will now have to convince departments that the head of their project team is up to the job. Project heads from each of the shortlisted suppliers will have to attend a ‘Discovery Workshop’ where their ability to work with the chair of the department’s project board will be explored. They will be tested on their ability to resolve problems and develop solutions. The outcome of the workshops will have a major influence on the selection of the successful bidder.This focus on leadership in major IT projects by the Office for Government Commerce is the latest move to stop the flow of failed projects, particularly those with a high profile such as the Passport Office fiasco. Analysis of project failures usually pointed to leadership and management issues rather than the technology. Last year the OGC imposed a requirement on departments to appoint a senior responsible officer to lead all major projects, chair the project board and be accountable for the outcome. In discussions in the Senior IT Forum, which is made up of representatives of departments and industry, such as Syntegra, IBM and EDS, it became clear that suppliers needed a leader to mirror the role of the senior responsible officer. The Forum agreed that it would be vital for the two leaders to work together harmoniously and so the Discovery Workshop was born.