IT and computerisation projects in organisations have a habit of failing, being late and over budget. This is the first of several blogs we’ll be writing discussing the issues in introducing technology. It describes activities, challenges and solutions in an exciting new project that TimelessTime consultants are engaged in. The job is to computerise a Government department.
Computerisation? Isn’t that just about giving the folk that work there the computers they need for their job? Yes, indeed, but computer systems designed for a specific application have a habit of fundamentally changing the jobs people do. They have a habit of reducing the number of people needed. And the users that remain can respond with ambivalence, with downright resistance or by embracing the new system as a godsend. Which it is and the benefits that are ultimately realised depend on how the project is set up and managed.
The future blogs will discuss the set up of such projects and how projects can be managed to gain computer user involvement and commitment to change.
Computerisation projects have a habit of failing. Take the Passport Office system – late and hugely over budget. And the NHS integration system known as NPfIT was finally scrapped in 2011. Smaller systems including Ofcom’s Unify system were both late and over budget. One could be forgiven for thinking that on the one hand such systems are simply too big – humans can imagine improvement but they can’t make it happen on this sort of scale. But it’s seldom about the size of the system or the scale of the IT. It’s generally when computer systems meet the users that problems arise. In the NPfIT case, the IT technology was available on time and to budget. But the clinicians couldn’t agree on the specifications and when applications did arrive, they didn’t meet the user need.
So what’s our project. Well, the details are confidential but the blogs over the coming weeks will discuss the issues without actually breaching confidentialities. Hopefully we’ll show how the techniques used avoid some of the pitfalls.
The department concerned is small, with about 50 staff. The department’s business is the appraisal of applications for permits, the granting of these permits and the enforcement in the event of breaches of rules associated with the permits.