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Input Sought

I am putting together a couple of papers for possible presentation/publication sometime in the future.

The working titles and content outlines are below.

Paper 1

We have met the enemy – it is us
Outline of proposed paper
Why do so many projects fail? Why despite the conferences, papers and books do we still see such a high proportion of failed ICT projects? Why are so many so quick to allocate blame to the project managers?
This paper looks at this issue from the perspective of a practitioner with several decades of experience in projects, project assessment and managing professional services. The core theme of the paper is that the root cause of much project failure is human nature; coupled with a signal failure even today by many who should know better to understand that technology is merely an enabler it is not a substitute for understanding and resolving the actual problem.
The paper will consider why failures continue to occur, the place of project methodologies and why we see projects subject to ‘strong’ governance still failing. The paper will draw upon the experience of the author and make reference to situations actually encountered across the author’s lengthy career. Consideration will be given to the viewpoints of executive management, operational managers, project personnel, vendors and consultants.
The author intends to take a provocative stance in his comments, especially as regards the all too common tendency to blame project managers for the problems, when in his opinion that is far too simplistic. Furthermore, he proposes to question the current fad for governance which all too often confuses protocol and process with the intent of governance which is ‘informed decision making’.
In summation the author intends to offer some suggestions as to commonsense steps which might be taken to reduce the incidence of failure.
Paper 2
Extinguishing scrub fires before they spark conflagrations
Some Thoughts on Portfolio Management
Outline of proposed paper
More and more organisations are finding themselves in the position of having portfolios of projects running. Some projects run well, others do not. Despite the money which has been spent on management systems we still find that the rate of success is poor and that in many cases executives and managers are surprised when programmes and projects ‘go off the rails’ with the velocity in many cases of a runaway locomotive.

The author intends to draw on his extensive experience with two major global organisations to highlight approaches to portfolio management which he has found successful both in identifying at an early stage the possibility of problems and where necessary mitigating the issues arising. The paper looks at these matters from a practical practitioners perspective not a theoretical one. It is hoped that the lessons learned, especially from mistakes made, will enable others to avoid some pitfalls in the future.

Areas considered include the question of risk/ benefit, cessation versus continuation and whether the perspective is different if the programme/ project is in house or external.

Regard will be had as to possible organisational approaches that may or may not offer benefits, including the role of Programme Offices.
In summation the intent is to look at Portfolio Management through the lens of a pragmatic practitioner and to offer some observations on possible approaches to obviate issues, ideally before they become problems.
The thrust of these two papers will be to take a practical experience based look at some of the issues in these two areas. It would greatly assist if anybody with views on the areas outlined would be kind enough to share their thoughts with me. I am happy to acknowledge such input in the paper. Furthermore if anybody would like to act as a reviewer please let me know, as another brain is always useful.

Digitization -the Services Revolution

I found this video at McKinsey & Co, it discusses how consumer experiences are impacting expectations of service delivery.

Whilst there are no jaw dropping insights it does make some interesting points and contains some interesting nuggets of information, such as that ‘services’ make up 50% of China’s economy.

Attending IITP Conference 2013

Later this week I will be attending the 2013 IITP Conference in Tauranga. This conference is focused on Innovation as one of it’s key themes.

Sessions I am looking forward to include the keynotes and a governance presentation. I am keen to understand how others see governance supporting and enhancing innovation.
More on the conference soon.



A video piece by James Surowiecki, of The New Yorker,  looks at telecommuting. this is complemented by a column at the New Yorker.

Classic folk rock

The superb Fairport Convention with a performance of Wake Up John, from the Babbacombe Lee album. Given the feelings re finance companies etc this album and songs about hanging seems somewhat appropriate

Novopay #6 : the perils of big IT projects

As I started to look at the Novopay papers, my thoughts turned to a recent article I had read at the McKinsey Quarterly website on delivering large-scale IT projects.

Our research, conducted in collaboration with the University of Oxford, suggests that half of all large IT projects—defined as those with initial price tags exceeding $15 million—massively blow their budgets. On average, large IT projects run 45 percent over budget and 7 percent over time, while delivering 56 percent less value than predicted. Software projects run the highest risk of cost and schedule overruns

These findings—consistent across industries—emerged from research recently conducted on more than 5,400 IT projectsby McKinsey and the BT Centre for Major Programme Management at the University of Oxford. After comparing budgets, schedules, and predicted performance benefits with the actual costs and results, we found that these IT projects, in total, had a cost overrun of $66 billion, more than the GDP of Luxembourg. We also found that the longer a project is scheduled to last, the more likely it is that it will run over time and budget, with every additional year spent on the project increasing cost overruns by 15 percent.

The findings are very interesting and correlate with other studies as well. I found the graph below of especial interest:-


The dollar figures are US dollars. Now MoE seem to indicate no major over run as such but I would infer that internal costs have escalated dramatically, especially when end user impact is factored in, plus costs incurred by Talent 2 as well as the some NZ$5 million so far set aside for resolution of issues.

It would be fascinating to know just how Novopay stacks up against these findings.

More commentary in the near future.

Whimsy – That’s why God made the radio

I remember idyllic weekends in the late 60s and early 70s listening to the Beach Boys.

They were the bast evocation of summer, ever!

This new song, whilst perhaps not their best brings it all back.

Whimsy – Hotel California

The superb Eagles, playing the classic Hotel California.

Just right for a summer afternoon in NZ

Flights of Whimsy

Given we are in the election period, then I think flights of whimsy and some fun are in order. It provides an alternative to the circus which is NZ politics.

So a number of posts will be less than serious. Some may even be amusing. Others will be as boring as usual, so as not to disappoint anyone.

Strategy in 3 words

  • Where are you going (what do you want to achieve and why)?
  • What will it look like when you get there (your market, your offer, your organisation, etc. and why)?
  • How will you get there (what will you do and why)?