Tag Archives: Projects

The ITx Conference – Auckland – 8-10 October 2014


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.


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.


Aspects of Project Failure – The Seven Deadly Sins

Yesterday I posted an item on 10 Things Great Project Managers Do. This post popped up on Facebook, as do my other posts, and a friend and former colleague Andy Cawston responded. We entered into a brief discussion as to how various human factors impact on projects.

Andy had made the observation that the list did not include Risk Management, to which I responded:-

Sure and in one sense all of the 10 are about Risk Management, with a focus on the people aspects, often seen as the ‘soft options’, yet in fact people are in many ways the hard options and in my view looking back over several decades ‘people’ are in fact one of the root causes of project failure. Indeed depending on the criteria being used to assess failure one might argue that ‘people’ are the primary cause of project failure and that successful project management is more about people management than anything else. At which point all sorts of people emerge from the woodwork to decry the proposition.

Andy then went on to expound an interesting concept:-

I’d be inclined to support that proposition. To my experience the primary causes of project failure tend to be people-related. For example, scope creep = people wanting too much, too soon, for too little. <— that’s Greed (Avarice), in a nutshell.

You could take each of the 7 Deadly Sins and similarly map them against the causes of project failure. All of them.

Wrath, sloth, pride, lust, envy, and gluttony could each similarly be mapped against primary causes of project failure, and as such could be managed as project risks.

Bloody brilliant!

I can recall one project in particular where Sloth was the primary cause of a project nearly failing. I was assigned to drag the project back, and we ended up delivering properly. It was hard work!

I can recall another project where Pride and Envy played a huge part in the bid process. Our team had been selected to develop a Partnership with the client. Our PM resented the presence of an external consultant driving the project, fought him tooth-and-nail, and we nearly ended up getting booted out of the account. Only a Mutiny by our team against the PM saved us…

Indeed the more I think about it, the situations we find ourselves in so often on projects do mirror the 7 Deadly Sins. Further, I think that more and more I am coming to the view that people are the primary cause of project failure, which goes a long way to explaining why we continue to see project failures year after year with causes of failure the same or similar to those encountered decades ago.

What do others think?

10 Things Great Project Managers Do

I came across this slideshow on 10 Things Great Project Managers Do today whilst browsing some online newsletters I subscribe to.

Whilst they may seem a little motherhood and apple pie to some,  it is when the basics are executed right that we get success. All too often we neglect the basics at our peril. There is a reason that the basics are called the basics.; it is that they are the building blocks for success.

One that resonated with me particularly was Number 10


The reason being that all too often in the past I have had occasion to ignore this basic. When I have it has often not turned out like I would have wished. Being a hard charger as the Americans say, is all very well, but you need to pace the charging. That knowledge often comes only with experience and after learning why the basic is a basic and not a namby pamby HR idea.

Of course there are other things, but these 10 encapsulate much of what is required for success. They do not guarantee success but they will go a long way to reducing project failure due to project management. Note though that other factors are often as influential, if not more so in project failure than project management.

Why IT Projects Fail?

Michael Krigsman blogs on a recent ITSMFAustralia conference where he took part in a discussion on IT Project Failure, presented in the form of a simulation. There is a link to the simulation at Krigsman’s blog.

Interestingly there is a strong NZ connection as Rob England, blogger, author (The IT Skeptic) was involved in developing the seesion and led it.Well done Rob.

The session repays study.

I have always found the use of hypotheticals/simulations an excellent way to communicate issues and highlight areas for focus.

Not an acceptable excuse

Organising Committee secretary general Lalit Bhanot insisted the village would be ready to host the 7000 athletes from 71 countries, arguing that foreign living expectations don’t necessarily match those in India.

“These rooms are clean to both you and us,” he told a press conference.

“However, it may not appear so to some others. They want certain standards in hygiene and cleanliness which may differ from our perception.”

This is nonsense. Media reports are that showers do not work, toilets do not flush and that rooms are contaminated by human excrement.

This is not a question of foreign expectations, this is about delivering conditions in which world class atheletes can live, eat and train.

The protestations of this official are absurd. India is one of the fastest growing nations in the world. They have the project skills to build nuclear weapons, yet cannot deliver a major event, or so it would appear.

What we are seeing here is an attempt to spin, when the reality is that the situation is unacceptable.

Talk about changing the definition of project completion, and the criteria for acceptance. Those remarks would have to be a classic example of changing the required outcome at the last minute, so that ‘success’ can be declared. This is a project that has gone off the rails it would appear.

Delhi Commonwealth Games – Project Failure?

The up-coming Commonwealth Games has all the marks of a Project Failure, even if it goes ahead. We are seeing a rapid moving of the criteria for success by a number of parties.

I intend to look at this event as a possible case study in governance and project/programme management. It is a excellent example in this regard. One of the factors that will be ‘front & center’ is that of politics, internal and external and their impact. Management of communications will feature as well.

As I started to research the matter, I came across this useful interview with Mike Hooper, CEO of the Commonwealth Games Federation.

This 2 part interview is dated 10 August, 2010.

Part 1

Part 2

The interview repays very careful listening. There are, it seems to me, some carefully nuanced remarks. I might be wrong, but I see Hooper as putting a brave face (spin) on the situation in this interview. Note the response to a question on quality of venues, accommodation and catering.

These comments were 10 August, 8 weeks out. The interviewer was quite persistent and I suspect would not be surprised at the situation now occurring! The interviewer was spot on with much of the questioning. It would appear that there are some corruption issues which the interviewer raised.

More to come, once I have had time to do some research.

Unfortunate project certainities

A cynical, but quite possibly accurate post at ComputerWeekly.com identifies 5 probabilities regarding the conduct of IT projects in the UK or US, whatever the political complexion of the administration:-

1) Over-optimism

2) A willingness to believe inspirational thought-leaders in the private sector who say that, yes, complexity in government can be simplified with technology (as opposed to changing the way things are done)

3) An insistence by ruling politicians and senior civil servants that what seems to be an IT-based disaster is, in fact, a success

4) What can be covered up will be

5)Knowledgeable critics will be dismissed as Luddites

As I said cynical, but in the light of Edward Leigh’s recent comments not perhaps far fetched, in fact all too believable

H/T to Privacyint and Taxpayers’ Alliance the source for Computer Weekly.

Key Issues in Project Success/Failure

This is the presentation I gave to the ISACA Governance Event on 11 September. I have been meaning to put this up for sometime, but unaccountably did not get around to it.

Ultimately I intend to expand on the matters discussed here, but as I have not got around to this as yet, I decided to post the presentation.

US $6.2 trillion = annual cost of IT failure

Michael Krigsman cites US$6.2 trillion, as the annual cost of IT failure. The estimate was sourced from Roger Sessions who blogged his estimate. Clearly the amount one comes up with in a calculation of this sort is greatly affected by the assumptions made. Yet given the fact that most agree that there is a high ‘failure’ rate to projects the presumption must be that we are looking at very large numbers of $ in terms of waste.

Anyway, admit it, the number got your attention.

Back in June I presented to the ISACA Wellington Chapter on Learning From ‘Failure ‘or ‘A Tale Of Three Projects’. The discussion was based on 3 projects I had personal experience and knowledge of and my comments were set against the back drop of the ISO 38500 standard on IT Governance.

Recently, I presented at the ISACA Wellington – Governance Day on the topic Key Issues in Success/Failure in the context of programmes/projects, on one slide I highlighted a number of common factors found in projects/programmes:-

Defining Factors in Project/Programme Success/Failure

Defining Factors in Project/Programme Success/Failure

I went on to map these against the 6 Principles set out in ISO 38500, which are:-

6.Human Behavior

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ISACA Wellington – Project Success Event

We had a good day on Friday. Interesting presentations and lots of questions and discussion from the participants, which made the effort involved in organizing the programme and event well worth while.

A consistent theme which emerged was the importance of people in all aspects of programmes and projects. Further, was a strong sense that when looking at programmes and projects we should recognise first and foremost that they are about business and change, not techonology alone.

My thanks to the speakers and to the attendees for making the day so succesful.