NHS IT project is dead, but why do large IT projects fail? Part 17.

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 was working on about wghy large IT projects are prone to fail.

I have had such a good response I am keeping the debate going in 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 and part 16 Fotis Karonis.

Today, in part 17, I present the views of Fergus Cloughley. He is co-author of The OBASHI Methodology, published by The Stationery Office, and CEO of OBASHI Ltd. 

The OBASHI methodology provides a framework and method for capturing, illustrating and modeling the relationships, dependencies and dataflows between business and Information technology (IT) assets and resources in a business context. Fergus is a specialist in understanding how businesses work and expert in analysing business processes. He began the development of the OBASHI methodology and software with his business partner Paul Wallis in 2001.

Why do large IT pojects fail?

Fergus says: “Businesses today rely on a complex interaction of people, process and technology to operate. That interaction is driven by the flow of data between these assets: the life-blood of modern business.

Large IT projects fail because those involved do not fully understand the inter-connectivity of people, process and technology, nor how data flows between and through them. This lack of clarity means they are unable to confidently predict what will happen if changes are made.
If we are being brutally honest, unlike businesses of earlier eras, most of today’s businesses do not understand precisely how they work.

Since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, flows of water, steam, and electricity, and then more recently, flows of oil, components and petrol, have all been critical for the development of business, economy and society.

Over decades, standards and practices for measurement, management, safety, optimisation and valuation, were created to accurately understand these different flows, meaning businesses could accurately capture and communicate how the organisation worked; how activities, processes and the supporting technical infrastructure were linked to deliver the outputs required.

This clarity minimised ambiguity, and enabled clear communication, in business terms, with stakeholders.  Better informed decisions became possible, and a high degree of trust grew between ‘business’ and ‘tech’.

When today’s businesses create comparable clarity on flows of data, they will be able to clearly see, and easily communicate, the ‘as is’ state of the organisation, and perform ‘what’ ifs’ before attempting major change.

At that point, most IT projects will be successful, including the large ones.”

I am still looking for more viewpoints. Feel free to post your views in the comments section. I will publish as many as I| can in the blog overtime.