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The Key to Project Success

The Australian Financial Review published “Ways to avoid IT project disasters”, an Opinion piece that I wrote in late 2013. Unfortunately, 3 years’ later, it’s obvious that the situation concerning what is required to deliver successful projects hasn’t changed much.

Peter Frost the Acting Auditor-General published another audit of ICT projects in Victoria in March 2016. The report findings stated that “none of the projects considered were completed, or will be completed, as initially budgeted.” One was cancelled 6 years after its original completion date at a cost of $60 million dollars to the Victorian taxpayer.

The audit concluded that “a robust culture of active governance at the senior management level” is necessary “to support informed decisions…”.

The conversation concerning troubled ICT projects is an important one. Obviously questions should be asked about the financial losses that have occurred, but much of the discussion in response to audits has focussed on what has not been done well, rather than why, and the best solutions moving forward.

We know from our work with organisations on projects that the main challenges include having the right project governance team, organisational culture and sufficient available support for governance groups.

PRINCE2® is the most commonly used project management methodology for Australian business transformation and ICT projects. The design of PRINCE2® is based on effective project governance. It stipulates that the project manager is appointed by the project sponsor and takes direction from the project steering committee, which includes the sponsor. The sponsor and steering committee have the ultimate responsibility for success or failure of the project.

ICT executives will be aware of PRINCE2®, but often, other mid to senior level executives or business managers have never heard of it and have no idea of what it looks like until they find themselves in a project governance role.

Many organisations do not have the skills and/or knowledge to govern projects effectively. ICT leaders can demonstrate the value of ICT by informing other executives within their organisations of the risks and success stories associated with projects and, by promoting learning for the governance function.

  • Do your senior executives really understand their roles and responsibilities when it comes to project governance?
  • Do your non-ICT executives know the questions they need answered to govern your projects to successful delivery?

Peter Frost did acknowledge there were some elements of better practice observed since the previous audit. However, whether private or public organisations, we still hear too many stories of disasters, lost revenues and negatively impacted careers.

If you want to avoid those issues and take the necessary steps to deliver a success story, contact us to arrange for a risk assessment of your organisation’s project governance capability.