The NPfIT and 3 common causes of failure

A fellow blogger for Computer Weekly, Philip Virgo, has an excellent post today [22 May 2008] entitled “Why do we never learn and keep replicating failure?”

Three points in particular struck me about central government projects such as the NHS’s National Programme for IT [NPfIT].

– “Once a proposal has been said to have ministerial support it acquires a mystical status – to be justified and defended at almost any cost, until such time as a new minister can announce that “technologies have changed” and thus justify a new approach …

– “The main reason why such problems persist, long after they were first identified, is that those who plan clever policies using fashionable technologies [ministers and their advisers, often from the private sector] ] are promoted to repeat their mistakes elsewhere, before they have time to learn …

– “Confusion and conflict over objectives and priorities and split responsibility for policy and implementation commonly mean that no-one knows what success looks like or is responsible for achieving it from conception to completion … [it’s worth noting in the case of the NPfIT that there is still no full-time overall senior responsible owner of the £12.7bn programme, the chief executive of the NHS, David Nicholson, being a part-time SRO for the NPfIT]


Philip’s Virgo’s blog

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