Introduction: the State of Queensland and IBM, Australia to



I have not witnessed a run-away ???real software development project ??????????, yet.  I found an interesting project undertaken by Queensland Health to implement payroll software system?. 

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Queensland Health is a department of the Government of Queensland which operates and administers the state’s public health system. To aid in the software development and implementation, Queensland Treasury hired a large number of contractors from external consulting companies including Accenture, IBM, Logica, and SAP.  

The project began as a $6.19 million contract between the State of Queensland and IBM, Australia to replace an aging payroll system, LATTICE with SAP and Workbrain.

The project was two years late. It was $1.18 billion over-budget and had more than 35,000 payroll anomalies that resulted in real-world grief for nurses and other health employees and left them with little or no pay. 

There were early signs of inadequate internal governance and mismanagement well before the Queensland Health payroll project was awarded to IBM. There were as many factors which contributed to the failure of the Queensland Health project which are:

Ø  Failure to clean up complex business processes prior to implementing new system

Ø  Requirements management and alignment of the project to business needs

Ø  Unclear roles and responsibilities

Ø  Poorly designed team structure and work breakdown design

Ø  The system failed critical user acceptance testing (UAT) processes but instead of addressing the issues, the bar for testing was simply lowered and less stringent guidelines were adopted

Ø  Failure to engage stakeholders effectively

Ø  Tensions between government departments

Ø  Lack of communications and training

Ø  Lack of risk management and contingency planning

Observations and Suggestions:

The right thing to do when there are project failures is doing exactly what the Queensland government has done so far – work out what went wrong and put processes in place to ensure those problems do not happen again.

The wrong thing to do when projects or systems fail is what the Queensland government proposed – which is to scrap the whole approach to shared IT systems and start again.

Instead, they could have divided the remainder of the project into smaller portions. establishing a number of milestones throughout the tasks of the project, making it easier for the team members to take ownership of the smaller chunks of the project and observe their own progress.

The Queensland government currently operates a shared services model for some of their IT services. There are many examples of successful shared services programs across government and the private sector.

Maybe moving the entire health system to a single shared service payroll solution was a mistake but, that does not mean that shared services will fail in every part of the government.

Acting early before the old system comes under the critical condition and not wanting to rush the planning phase contributes a lot to evaluate the business processes and rules thoroughly.

It is also essential to recognize when a project is headed for a such an outcome and appropriate actions should be taken early before all the funds have been spent on the project.