Tag Archives: LinkedIn

Major Projects Part 1

Some years ago I posted about the comments made by Sir Edward Leigh in regard to the conduct of major projects when he retired as Chairman of the UK Parliaments Public Accounts Committee.

It would seem that the comments made then are still pertinent today, perhaps even more so. My memory was jogged by the recent report from the Taxpayers Union of the apparent massive blowout in a new IRD computer system to handle changes to child support. Then I read the articles in The Dominion Post this morning regarding the transformation project underway at IRD.

The objectives of the changes are not unreasonable, what concerns me is the scale and potential complexity of the project.  In particular this comes at a time when IRD are looking at a massive project to replace existing and aged systems.

I intend to look at the issues around major projects in a series of posts over the next few weeks. My intent is to start with what appears at first sight to be a major blow-out, but on review may come up with a number of different questions requiring answer.

As background I have linked to Sir Edward’s letter, Edward_Leigh_Letter_28_March_2010 and to the IRD report on the child support system  Taxation Annual Rates for 201516 Research and Development and Remedial Matters Bill. In addition there is a link as well to a relevant McKinsey Quarterly article,  Delivering large-scale IT projects on time on budget and on value.

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We Have Met the Enemy – He is Us

This was the title of my presentation at the #ITx2014 conference yesterday.

I have embedded the slideshow. In the next few days I will try and put up a version with an audio commentary reflecting what I said on the day.

 

The ITx Conference – Auckland – 8-10 October 2014

Itx

This conference will soon be upon us. I have been fortunate enough to have a paper selected for presentation.

The programme is here and my offering is here.

You can register here

What is ITx?

Established in 2014, ITx is three conferences in one; combining the successful IITP and CITRENZ national conferences with the re-launch of the Computer Science Association’s conference; establishing the broadest and largest non-vendor general IT conference in New Zealand.

ITx focuses on innovation, technology and education and brings IT professionals, decision-makers, leaders and academics together under one roof. This is a conference like no other: where industry, academia and government come together to network, learn and engage.

ITx will run every second year in either Auckland, Wellington or Christchurch.

About IITP, CITRENZ and CSANZ

The Institute of IT Professionals NZ (IITP) is the professional body of the IT sector and is the largest IT representative body in New Zealand. IITP has run conferences for almost 50 years, although there was a large hiatus prior to the 2010 50th Anniversary Conference. IITP2013 was held in Tauranga and attracted hundreds of IT professionals and thought leaders.

Computer and Information Technology Research and Education New Zealand (CITRENZ) is the representative body for the IT departments of New Zealand’s Institute of Technology / Polytechnic sector. CITRENZ has been running successful annual conferences for 27 years.

Computer Science Association of New Zealand (CSANZ) is the forum for the University Computer Science community. CSANZ has been active for many years and 2014 will see the return of the popular CSANZ conference as part of ITx.

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.

Social Media and the NZ 2014 Election

This is not a political blog, but it would be foolish to ignore the fact that 2014 is a general election year. In addition it takes place at a time when the use of social media to assist parties in their campaigns is accelerating.

I have found it interesting to look at how the parties are and are not using social media in 2014. As yet I cannot discern from a lay perspective whether any one party possesses the knack, nor is it clear that some of them and/or their adherents have any idea how to get it.

However, I have found this blog site, Social Media & the 2014 General Election run by Matthew Beveridge to be helpful when considering the area.

Hutt Valley Chamber of Commerce

This post is an unashamed plug for the Chamber, but I feel that they deserve it. In recent months I have been going along to their excellent series of early morning breakfasts held on the second Friday of most months at 6:30 am at The Petone Working Men’s Club.

In particular I especially enjoyed the April address by Dr John McDermott from the Reserve Bank, which was extremely insightful. Then last Friday was the address by Mayor Ray Wallace of Hutt City who spoke about what was happening in the area and how Hutt City might evolve.

HVCC_RAYW_13062014Along with his speech, Mayor Wallace left attendees with a number of copies of a booklet Fresh Thinkers – Profiling Technology Businesses in the Hutt, the link takes you to the relevant web site for viewing and download.

I am ashamed to admit that until relatively recently I had not appreciated sufficiently the scale of  business in the Hutt, nor just how many success stories we have here. It is fascinating and taking part in the varied Chamber activities has enabled me to appreciate this much more. Hutt Valley is a vital part of the NZ economy and has a major role to play in our future economic success.

 

 

The role of procurement in software project failure

The Institute of Information Technology Professionals is conducting a very brief survey of IT procurement in project failure. Please, if you have relevant experience take part in the survey. Details are below:

Gmail - The role of procurement in software project failure (2)The survey can be accessed here http://www.iitp.org.nz/spsurvey

It is very concise so please assist us in this research effort.

As many of you know I have a long held interest in the causes of project failure, so I look forward to seeing the results of this survey.

Communication problems

My longtime friend and former colleague Richard Cheeseman sent me his latest promotional email today.

Richard is one of the good guys.

He may be able to help you in the increasingly complex telco space.

Richard believes in telling the truth.

Check Richard out. Let me know if he fails to deliver. I have a piece of 2X4.

 

Sins and Redemption: IT Project Recovery

Michael Krigsman has a guest post by Todd C Williams.

in this post Mr Williams looks at some key components of project recovery.

His scene setting opener is excellent and oh so true:-

Before we can proceed down the path of recovery, we must admit the existence of a problem. Pride, ego, emotion, denial, and inertia bias our view of the situation.  Project managers believe they can correct the problems. Executives try to help by assigning additional tasks, new processes to follow, numerous spreadsheets to complete and daily reports to distribute.  Eventually, the customer becomes aware of the situation and they go to the steering committee demanding action.  The latter gets action. The resulting scramble to appease the customer, however, does little to solve problems while only addressing symptoms

Read the post , it is well worth a look.

Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs is dead. A great shame for his family, friends and colleagues.

Yet I confess I find the outpourings of grief by so many somewhat OTT, and much of the media coverage equally so, for example the front page of the Dominion Post here in Wellington this week.

Jobs was a great businessman in many ways, but he was not a saint. In many ways he had the instincts of a monopolist given Apple’s success at creating a walled garden for its offerrings.