Someone should talk to the minister about agile

So another government IT project fails to deliver.  The National Offender Management Information System had been budgetted to cost £234m (total lifetime cost) and take four years to complete.  Three years in and the costs had spiralled, with a new lifetime project cost estimated at £690m.  The plug was pulled and a new three year project at the cost of £513m was commenced.  Poor project management was blamed, but I’d go further and blame the project approach as well.  The Minister responsible says why;

“As soon as the extent of the projected costs and delays to the project were recognised, we took immediate steps to halt the project and consider the most cost-effective way forward which effectively preserved the work done to date”

So let’s get this straight:

It took three years to recognise that a project to implement a single database had gone wrong

Contrast this to an agile project where progress, costs and risks are continuously monitored.  But what does the goverment do?  Continue with the same approach as before with some new project managers on the job.  And wait another three years before any value will be delivered.


  1. Simon · Thursday, 12 March, 2009

    The problems were project management related so the technology, or technical processes such as agile, never stood a chance in the first place. The fact that the PM’s, who were complete nincompoops, created the problem means that there was no management in place to identify the problem or sort it out.

  2. Project Management - PM Hut · Friday, 13 March, 2009


    Project Management in the government is exposed to many challenges (it’s not the usual procedure in private projects), and is threatened by a lot of deadly project management mistakes.

    Project Managers can be blamed for the failure of such projects, but certainly not entirely (as with all other projects).

    Agile Project Management is not the solution to the problem, no any other Project Management methodology. Additionally, Agile has yet to have proven records in any governmental project before being hailed as the savior of failed projects.

  3. Lachlan · Saturday, 14 March, 2009

    I was working on a project for Correctional Services (the people who look after the prisons) in NSW a few years ago. A month before it was going to go live we were asked if we could quickly re-write it on Java, rather than in .Net, because that was their new direction, and it’s just webpages. Maybe these guys were taking advice from their friends in the UK?

    Simon – bad project management is a problem, but deciding to try a project that would cost that much is a more fundamental problem.

  4. dancingmango » Petition · Tuesday, 25 June, 2013

    […] written in the past about the government’s abysmal track record on IT development.  I met with the local MP to discuss the issues but he didn’t really get […]

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