Not the real reason

Many small businesses are disappointed by what their money can buy in IT. They aim big, and then are often underwhelmed by how much can be done for them. However, they generally cut their losses, and settle for a slightly inferior product.

Many larger businesses are also disappointed by what IT can do for them. However, they tend to lower their expectations ahead of spending money, because experience has taught them this. They’ll then expand the budget to reach this lowered expectation.

However, really large organisations (like, say) governments do it a middle way. They have small business mindsets in that they believe the glossy brochures and think that a new system is the answer to [problem de jour]. But they have a big business mindset in that they won’t often give up until they have something approaching their initial targets.

The two are generally mutually exclusive. So it’s not even newsworthy these days for a government IT project to be massively over budget and/or late and/or inadequate. Things only reach the news when the budget is obscenely over the estimate: multiples of four or more would be needed.

Or it’ll make the news if the semi sensible thing is done, and losses are cut.

Plans for the £234m National Offender Management Information System system, known as C-NOMIS, began in 2004 with the aim of allowing the prison and probation services in England and Wales to follow offenders “end to end” through the criminal justice system.

However, by July 2007 the project was two years behind schedule and its estimated costs had soared to £690 million, the National Audit Office (NAO) report found.

See, that shouldn’t be too difficult. It’s essentially an asset-tracking system. But do you think that HMG treated it like that? Did they hell. They’ll have wanted bells and whistles on the bells and whistles; there’ll have been thousands of ‘stakeholders’ each wanting to have a bit of say in how it was to be run. And the consultants will habe looked at it, said YES and then climbed aboard the gravy train in the knowledge that the government won’t bitch too much when the price doubles or trebles.

And then when there’s an investigation into why things went belly up, they’ll fail to spot the main reason. And they’ll blame something else entirely.

And the it’ll happen again and again and again.

It’d be funny, if it wasn’t so damn expensive.

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