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Death of the dino IT project?

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Aside from the ongoing saga of what the NHS National Programme for IT (NPfIT) will deliver and when another interesting point was the knock-on effects for future big IT projects.

I read on one website that it was the death of the dino-project, which seemed to suggest that projects of this scale and complexity were pretty much extinct or well on the way to being so.

This view was backed by Ian Watmore, chief operating officer in the Cabinet Office's Efficiency and Reform Group, who effectively vowed that this sort of thing should never happen again and "nothing meaningful should take more than two or three years to deliver".

Even the Rt Hon Margaret Hodge MP, in response to the National Audit Office review, appeared to admit defeat when she said: "It is sad to see the Departments lofty ambitions continue to be compromised.

So was the NPfIT the straw that broke the camels back or a kick back against one isolated IT project that went massively astray?

Eager to learn more, I asked a project manager working in the NHS if we would ever see the like of the NPfIT again? His response offered a glimmer of hope. He said that despite the clamour for reforms, the NHS would not work as a cottage industry of GP consortia.

He was less optimistic however, about the appetite to deliver especially in the current climate. He said with so much uncertainty hanging over the service at present, long-term strategic objectives had disappeared over the horizon and the capability of Primary Care Trusts and Strategic Health Authorities was eroding on a day-to-day basis.

Theyre operating with an end-date on them he remarked in response to the current infrastructure set-up and who knows, perhaps the future of the big IT projects as well?


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  1. Patrick Weaver
    Patrick Weaver 10 June 2011, 11:33 AM

    There is nothing wrong with big projects if you have people capable of managing them, both from the clients end and the delivery end.  However, inexperience, egos and incompetence will derail any project bigger ones simply make a bigger mess.My feeling with 90% of major IT project failures though is the primary cause was trying to run a complex PROGRAM of work with dozens of embedded projects and multiple objectives as a simple project.  Programs are not big projects and need different management skills to be successful.  For more on this see:

  2. Peter Ballard
    Peter Ballard 02 June 2011, 02:00 PM

    What would the Victorians think? Such short-termism is surely emblematic of the framing of programme horizons based on career, contract, or political term timeframes. Too often benefits must be demonstrated in this life to gain funding and the greater good, particularly if painful in the short-term, is dismissed. Portfolios of change initiatives need to be balanced between short-term gain and long-term good.