December 2011 Archives

NHS IT project is dead, but why do large IT projects fail? Part 27

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Following the news that the NHS National Project for IT was dropped I have been posting some of the views I have recently had provided to me for an unrelated feature I was working on about why large IT projects are prone to fail.

Brian Randell, part 2 Anthony Finkelstein, part 3 Yann L'Huillier, part 4 James Martin, part 5 Philip Virgo , part 6 Tony Collins, part 7 ILan Oshri, part 8, Robert Morgan part 9 Sam Kingston, part 10 Peter Brudenal, part 11 Mark Lewis,  part 12  John Worthy, part 13 Stuart Drew, part 14 Milan Gupta, part 15 from a reader known as Matt, part 16 Fotis Karonis, part 17 Fergus Cloughley, part 18  Steve Haines, part 19 David Holling, part 20  Bryan Cruickshank, part 21  Rob Lee, part 22 Tony Prestedge, part 23 BG Srinivas, part 24 Craig Beddis, part 25 Stuart Mitchenall and part 26 Colin Beveridge.

Part 27 today comes from Trevor Christie-Taylor who has had 20 Years in the industry. He is currently, chief architect of the Parliamentary Document Management System (PDMS) with the Australian Federal Government and associate of the National Centre for Information Systems Research.

He says, "1. One of the most important reasons for failure is the inherently predictive nature of the project structure. Because stakeholders are pathologically incapable of acknowledging uncertainty they construct a false certainty into the plans, which amounts to not much more than a guess plus contingency. Also management structure tends to value planning skills ahead of steering skills (steering is often left to a disconnected committee that steers by exception). As if this situation was not untenable the steering committee quite often constructs things in a way that it is difficult for the PM to communicate the ugly truth - effective steering is impossible the project falls apart in the face of reality.

2. Managers tend to see systems as whole entities that can be managed like a construction site, because they do not have the technical ability to see the details of the system. They cannot for example see whether a solution is a good design for the requirement or a bad one, and they cannot see the fluid nature of some aspects and the immovable nature of other aspects. They cannot identify a programmer who is a good problem solver but a hopeless designer or one who is a world class designer but a bad user interface person.

3. Finally I.T. program managers and planners often discount the emotional nature of some projects. Projects depend absolutely on the support of the users, the key stakeholders and senior management - nobody can be left out. Support means in the end that they must like the project and this means that the project must care about them ('the law of reciprocal regard'). Sure, small insignificant projects or "pure IT" projects can succeed without this reciprocal regard but the big ones that involve thousands or tens of thousands of users (who just want to do their own jobs effectively) don't stand a chance."


Uncertain European economy begins to bite outsourcers

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News that Logica is cutting 1300 jobs could be a sign of things to come as businesses in Europe hold back spending in the light of the Euro crisis and increasing fears of a return to recession.

The cuts include 450 positions in Sweden and the UK and a 550 jobs are expected to go in the Netherlands and Belgium due to the lower demand for IT contracts in these regions.
"...it has recently become clear that many of our clients are delaying short term expenditure and reducing discretionary investments to weather an uncertain economic future," said Logica.

Peter Brudenall, lawyer at Lawrence Graham, says some of the suppliers in continental Europe might become easy targets for the big Indian suppliers, who are trying to increase their European presence.

"Indian IT majors to look at acquisitions in Europe, with the exception of the UK. Companies in continental Europe might start to look quite inexpensive and there is certainly a perception that there is more growth in countries like Germany, France and across Scandinavia."

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NHS IT project is dead, but why do large IT projects fail? Part 26

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Following the news that the NHS National Project for IT was dropped I have been posting some of the views I have recently had provided to me for an unrelated feature I was working on about why large IT projects are prone to fail.

Because I have had such a good response I am keeping the debate going on the blog.

Here are the posts already published: Part 1 Brian Randell, part 2 Anthony Finkelstein, part 3 Yann L'Huillier, part 4 James Martin, part 5 Philip Virgo , part 6 Tony Collins, part 7 ILan Oshri, part 8, Robert Morgan part 9 Sam Kingston, part 10 Peter Brudenal, part 11 Mark Lewis,  part 12  John Worthy, part 13 Stuart Drew, part 14 Milan Gupta, part 15 from a reader known as Matt, part 16 Fotis Karonis, part 17 Fergus Cloughley, part 18  Steve Haines, part 19 David Holling, part 20  Bryan Cruickshank, part 21  Rob Lee, part 22 Tony Prestedge, part 23 BG Srinivas, part 24 Craig Beddis and  part 25 Stuart Mitchenall.

Today's comment, which was posted in the CW500 club LinkedIn group, comes from Colin Beveridge.

He is a former CIO and currently principal analyst at Freeform Dynamics.
His comment sparked off debate in the CW500 forum, which you can see here if you sign up to the CW500 LinkedIn group.

He says: "Virtually all true IT projects succeed, whereas a high proportion of so-called IT projects continue to fail, leading to unexpected cost and disappointment.

A true IT project is concerned purely with IT or data [i.e. re-engineering] and a so-called IT project is the term more generally applied to a business system initiative.

This is not a semantic argument but the substantive root cause of the long-standing phenomenon I named the Trillion Dollar Bonfire."


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US bill could punish firms that offshore call centres

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Republicans and Democrats in the US have introduced a bill could punish US businesses if they offshore their telephone call centres.

According to an article on the Huffingtonpost.com website the bill, if it became law, would make companies that offshore telephone call centres ineligible for grand and loans from the federal government.

This proposed protectionism is an effort to protect US jobs according to Republican Tim Bishop, who introduced the Bill with colleague David McKinley.

Bishop is reported as saying: "Outsourcing is one of the scourges of our economy and one of the reasons we are struggling to knock down the unemployment rate and reduce the number of Americans who are out of work. We can't prohibit it, but we can certainly discourage it."

If the economy falls back into recession this type of protectionist activity could increase and it could extend to IT services let alone call centres.

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Five predictions for outsourcing in 2012

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This time of year is not only a great time to reflect but also to look ahead. Today I am posting a contribution from BG Srinivas, who is a director at Indian IT services firm Infosys.

BG has given me his predictions for 2012. If anyone has any predictions for how IT outsourcing will shape up next year please let me know.

Predictions for 2012

By BG Srinivas

"1 - Cloud computing evolution

The cloud has been discussed for several years now - but what will make 2012 different is cloud adoption is beginning to reach a tipping point.

In fact, in 2012 we expect that there will be an increase in the amount of software and applications adopted into the cloud. With larger enterprises continuing to take advantage of the private cloud in particular, the industries which will prioritise this most will include the likes of those working in manufacturing, finance and retail.

However, it's not going to be just businesses making their way to the cloud. Consumers  are increasingly consuming cloud based applications, and cloud is entering the mainstream consciousness.  Even computer games are being delivered as services via the likes of OnLive, and the launch this year of Apple's iCloud is really driving awareness and acceptance of cloud services. This is helping to driving cloud adoption as it becomes more accepted and mainstream.

Therefore, it is clear the cloud will be moving onwards and upwards in 2012.

2 - IT budgets

Whilst Infosys is aware that in 2011 our customers were more cautious with their spending, in 2012, we expect that IT budgets will continue to be flat at best as business remain cautious about spending. Whilst this is a global issue, with the current macro economic issues in Europe, this issue will only be exacerbated further. Therefore, many companies - including our customers - will be ensuring that they make more strategic and considered decisions before making any IT purchases.

Any spend which will take place next year will focus on the following areas:

-Keeping the lights on whilst managing current tasks and infrastructure which means doing more with less (another reason why prediction 1 will be true!)
-Vendor consolidation
-More spend on customer centric application such as multichannel commerce, digital marketing  and business intelligence
-Coping with new and enhanced regulation and/or compliance

3 - Increasing personalisation through digitisation

The digital world is continually growing and we don't expect this trend to stop in 2012. With the proliferation of smartphones (adoption rates are expected to reach 50 per cent next year), enhancements being made on an on going basis to social media platforms and organisations needing to stay on track with each of these increases, 2012 will be the year in which as an industry we get to grips with this to ensure that the digital consumer is truly being supported.

As a result of this, companies need to understand that consumers have more information and higher expectations because of their online research or interactions. If organisations don't invest in application in 2012, they risk getting left behind.

4 - Emerging (growth) economies (BRIC content too)

We are already aware that the growth or emerging economies present an on-going opportunity to organisations. In 2012 we expect that this will be the year for these markets on the local level. However, given the current projections of the International Monetary Fund, on the global stage, their growth will be spurted by constraints  in export regions such as drop in demand  or budget freezes.

In fact, in 2012, we will continue to see the emerging economies growing faster. This will, in turn, provide business opportunities for the West, as long as they invest in local markets and create innovation hubs. One of the main reasons for this is that they don't have the same legacy costs so can adopt technology easier and more quickly.

The demand for world class products in emerging economies is increasing. However, with a wide variance of requirements in existence, it will be important to ensure a certain level of compliance across the multiple local markets.

We will see many of the countries in the emerging economies playing a more significant role in terms of the world's decisions and political forums.  However, for global economic success, businesses can't shift all focus to the BRIC countries - for issues such as unemployment, this can only be tackled by increased collaboration and investment from both sides.

 5- Sustainability

There is clearly increasing pressure on managing limited resources, however, a focus on technology could help to reduce the impact of energy. We believe that 2012 will be the year when more organisations will focus more of their efforts on emerging technology to drive both efficiency and resource consumption. For example, smarter technologies such as smart grids will begin to play a bigger part in homes and offices as global and industry deadlines loom.

We also expect a rise in social contracts (much in the way governments have with those they govern, those where enterprises co-exist with society and there is an expectation that sustainable methods come as standard. This won't necessarily be limited to 2012, but will be expected as standard from here on out."



 

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Cognizant staff blogging critical to internal efficiencies and customer services

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I wrote an article earlier this month about a deal between pharmaceuticals giant Astrazeneca and IT supplier Cognizant.

I feel like writing a blog post because the deal is an example of how social media can be used in business. More specifically how blogging can be harnessed to share knowledge.

The deal sees Astrazeneca use Cognizant's proprietary platform, Cognizant 2.0, which uses Web 2.0 technology. This will enable AstraZeneca, through Cognizant, to share information globally and make it easier to carry out clinical studies across various countries. A total of 80,000 Cognizant workers are connected through the platform.

The platform, which uses Microsoft SharePoint as a backbone as well as .Net technology, uses blogging as a key component. When internal staff or customers have an question they can blog about it and thousands of relevant workers can respond to it. So the community sorts things out.

This improves internal efficiencies and solves the problem of the knowledge gap. This gap occurs because although the answers to questions are usually available within a company they are often hard to find.

I spoke to the man behind the project Sukumar Rajagopal today. He told me that in 2006 his CEO presented him with the knowledge management problem. What began as a sketch describing the problem, which still sits on Rajagopal's desk, is now Cognizant 2.0.

There are about 8000 blog posts put into the system every month and between 12,000 and 15,000 comments. Cognizant says it has invested about $10m in Cognizant 2.0.

I think this is a great example of social media working in business. It is providing internal efficiencies and improving customer services.

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NHS IT project is dead, but why do large IT projects fail? Part 25

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Following the news that the NHS National Project for IT was dropped I have been posting some of the views I have recently had provided to me for an unrelated feature I was working on about why large IT projects are prone to fail.

Because I have had such a good response I am keeping the debate going on the blog.

Here are the posts already published: Part 1 Brian Randell, part 2 Anthony Finkelstein, part 3 Yann L'Huillier, part 4 James Martin, part 5 Philip Virgo , part 6 Tony Collins, part 7 ILan Oshri, part 8, Robert Morgan part 9 Sam Kingston, part 10 Peter Brudenal, part 11 Mark Lewis,  part 12  John Worthy, part 13 Stuart Drew, part 14 Milan Gupta, part 15 from a reader known as Matt, part 16 Fotis Karonis, part 17 Fergus Cloughley, part 18  Steve Haines, part 19 David Holling, part 20  Bryan Cruickshank, part 21  Rob Lee, part 22 Tony Prestedge, part 23 BG Srinivas and part 24 Craig Beddis.

Today in part 25 I feature the views of Stuart Mitchenall, head of business support services, at Tandridge District Council. He has worked in Public Sector IT since 1984. Half of this has been in central government and the rest in Local.

He says: "I have never worked outside the public sector, but have worked in Central (Whitehall) Government, the wider Civil Service, and now local Government. There is value in all the comments above, but which are the key factors?

In business, I believe that profit drives the methodologies to produce the outcome that was required; the central driver - the board, the shareholder, is less interested in the project detail, more in outcomes. So projects are progressed by the person responsible for the business close to the project.

Central Government's large projects switch that round, with the top of the office demanding project detail at a much lower level, showing less confidence in its own machinery and yet dispersing culpability very widely. Decisions are taken at the top, and then micro management (public sector bureaucracy) continues to intervene in projects.
 
Local Government shows facets of the private sector; the big decisions, however, are imposed upon the sector, and the dispersal of the solution actually makes LG more successful through a competitive supply market. And failures don't affect the entire sector.

But the method is still micro management, rather than outcome, driven, so local government is still slow at decisions and prone to delay, as political views demand justification for the method rather than the outcome.

So perhaps the answer is volatility keeps projects on their toes, and the apparent focus of business is more rigorous than the public sector methods. This, together with Tony Hainsworth's comments (see below in bold) on Political and Social objectives, I believe accounts for much of the perceived differences."

Following replies to his post on the CW 500 club linkedIn group Stuart said: "I would add that the point I was seeking to make (and some missed) was that the volatility and speed of implementation is a factor - the focus of organisations which deliver quickly seems to benefit whereas the bureaucracy and uncertainty of Public Sector implementations seems to mitigate against success. That doesn't mean that the Private will always deliver better, but it does mean that the risks of failure increases because of the complexity of the Public Sector Governance."

Tony Hainsworth, Systems Development & ICT Security Manager at St Edmundsbury borough council:
"When I worked in the private sector, there was usually a clear directive from management about requirements and on top of this was the profit motive. Public sector projects often have political or social objectives (and several stakeholders often with conflicting priorities) so can be doomed from the start."

I am still looking for more opinions so please keep them coming.

Brazil will be a massive location to source IT, but challenges remain

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Following my blog post last week about ten years of the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) countries I thought I would revisit some of the locations. I write loads about India as an offshore IT services destination. China has featured quite a lot and I have touched on Brazil. I have written a bit about Eastern Europe but not Russia specifically.

A former colleague of mine, Angelica Mari who is Brazilian, is out in Brazil now where she has set up a company with her husband, Mark Hillary, which sheds light on the IT services in Brazil. IT Decisions, as the company is known, produces information in English that can help CIOs make decisions about Brazil as a possible destination for their IT.

IT Decisions has produced a report entitled: The State of Brazil IT. You can download it here.

As we know Brazil is one of the new superpowers and with the World Cup in 2014 and the Olympic Games in 2016 set to be held in Brazil, the country is about to get more limelight.
 
Brazil has a massive internal economy and strong IT supporting it. Although IT services are delivered to the West from Brazil there is huge potential for more.

The IT Decisions report says: "The ICT industry in Brazil is already huge, but is largely inward facing. Once that expertise starts getting applied to the world, there will be very little that can prevent Brazil becoming a hi-tech superpower, in just the same way India earned its reputation as an IT giant in only the past decade."

But it warns of obstacles ahead.

"-The World Cup and Olympics: with only three years left to go, there needs to be an immense push right now to ensure the infrastructure is going to be ready and enough people will be trained.

-The skills gap: the enormous economic growth and opportunities in Brazil are leading to a distinct skills gap in IT. The government is taking notice, but almost all the planned solutions are focused on the long term with no attention paid to the immediate crisis.

-Exporting services: Tax breaks are being introduced, but the government continues to tinker at the edges of tax and export policy. A complete analysis is required to determine how the government can better support twenty-first century companies exporting services and products on the Internet.

-Outsourcing: the fact that employment law has not been updated for decades in Brazil - and as a result hazy gray areas have been left over outsourcing, freelancing and short-term contracts -- is a disgrace. The government has created an outsourcing commission to address this, but this journal has yet to see their proposed scope for reform or projected dates for recommendations.

-English training: Brazil uses Portuguese as a national language and English is not required in most jobs, but if the IT industry is going to take advantage of global opportunities, the industry must ensure there are more English speakers. At present, government English programs are focused on people who will interact with tourists-not IT professionals."






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Intellect responds to criticism from outsourcing industry

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I blogged earlier this week about consultants being slammed by the government.  In this post I went on to reveal the views of some in the IT outsourcing industry about Intellect providing training to government procurement professionals to improve their commercial awareness.

I won't repeat what was said about Intellect but you can read it in this blog post.

Here is Intellect's response to these comments. "We haven't been appointed by government to help improve skills. What we have done is independently launch our market access and skills initiatives which will be run and funded by Intellect. These are aimed at helping improve how government uses technology by providing a channel by which people working in government can access the innovation and expertise that exist across the technology industry.

With regard to Intellect's skills, we do, of course, have a highly skilled team here, but, more importantly what we will be doing is tapping into the wider skills of the ICT community."

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NHS IT project is dead, but why do large IT projects fail? Part 24

Karl Flinders | No Comments
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Following the news that the NHS National Project for IT was dropped I have been posting some of the views I have recently had provided to me for an unrelated feature I was working on about why large IT projects are prone to fail.

Because I have had such a good response I am keeping the debate going on the blog.

Here are the posts already published: Part 1 Brian Randell, part 2 Anthony Finkelstein, part 3 Yann L'Huillier, part 4 James Martin, part 5 Philip Virgo , part 6 Tony Collins, part 7 ILan Oshri, part 8, Robert Morgan part 9 Sam Kingston, part 10 Peter Brudenal, part 11 Mark Lewis,  part 12  John Worthy, part 13 Stuart Drew, part 14 Milan Gupta, part 15 from a reader known as Matt, part 16 Fotis Karonis, part 17 Fergus Cloughley, part 18  Steve Haines, part 19 David Holling, part 20  Bryan Cruickshank, part 21  Rob Lee, part 22 Tony Prestedge, part 23 BG Srinivas and part 24 Craig Beddis.

Today in part 25 I feature the views of Stuart Mitchenall, head of business support services, at Tandridge District Council. He has worked in Public Sector IT since 1984. Half of this has been in central government and the rest in Local.

He says: "I have never worked outside the public sector, but have worked in Central (Whitehall) Government, the wider Civil Service, and now local Government. There is value in all the comments above, but which are the key factors?

In business, I believe that profit drives the methodologies to produce the outcome that was required; the central driver - the board, the shareholder, is less interested in the project detail, more in outcomes. So projects are progressed by the person responsible for the business close to the project.

Central Government's large projects switch that round, with the top of the office demanding project detail at a much lower level, showing less confidence in its own machinery and yet dispersing culpability very widely. Decisions are taken at the top, and then micro management (public sector bureaucracy) continues to intervene in projects.
 
Local Government shows facets of the private sector; the big decisions, however, are imposed upon the sector, and the dispersal of the solution actually makes LG more successful through a competitive supply market. And failures don't affect the entire sector.

But the method is still micro management, rather than outcome, driven, so local government is still slow at decisions and prone to delay, as political views demand justification for the method rather than the outcome.

So perhaps the answer is volatility keeps projects on their toes, and the apparent focus of business is more rigorous than the public sector methods. This, together with Tony Hainsworth's comments (see below in bold) on Political and Social objectives, I believe accounts for much of the perceived differences."

Following replies to his post on the CW 500 club linkedIn group Stuart said: "I would add that the point I was seeking to make (and some missed) was that the volatility and speed of implementation is a factor - the focus of organisations which deliver quickly seems to benefit whereas the bureaucracy and uncertainty of Public Sector implementations seems to mitigate against success. That doesn't mean that the Private will always deliver better, but it does mean that the risks of failure increases because of the complexity of the Public Sector Governance."

Tony Hainsworth, Systems Development & ICT Security Manager at St Edmundsbury borough council:
"When I worked in the private sector, there was usually a clear directive from management about requirements and on top of this was the profit motive. Public sector projects often have political or social objectives (and several stakeholders often with conflicting priorities) so can be doomed from the start."

I am still looking for more opinions so please keep them coming.


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This page is an archive of entries from December 2011 listed from newest to oldest.

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