Qld Health woes symptom of wider malaise

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Qld Health woes symptom of wider malaise

A shot of prevention could protect businesses from a similar fate.

No organisation is immune from project management issues that crippled a two-year payroll system implementation at Queensland Health, analyst firm Ovum has warned.

Research director Kevin Noonan said poor IT governance was at the heart of implementation horror stories for decades.

Reflecting on Queensland Health's woes Noonan said many organisations "may only be a hair's breadth away" from a similar fate.

"The auditor was fairly clear that governance was an issue," Noonan said, referring to Queensland Auditor General Glenn Poole's damning report of the Queensland Health implementation.

"This has nothing to do with technology; the important part is understanding who's calling the shots."

For Queensland's Bligh Government, the failed implementation led to more than 35,000 payroll anomalies.

Groups such as the Queensland Nurses' Union were among those critical of the department. The nurses will meet at Brisbane's Parliament House tomorrow to "send an even stronger message to the government that we hold them ultimately responsible for fixing the payroll system".

The State Government has engaged PriceWaterhouseCoopers to review the shared-services model and advise it on how best to deliver services under its corporate solutions program.

Noonan said the ICT industry was littered with implementation failures, although none quite as large or as public as that at Queensland Health recently.

"The private sector has a clear bottom line," he said. "In the public sector, agency requirements aren't necessarily measured out as easily in dollars and cents.

"This [IT governance] is an issue that is common across most many organisations - although many haven't failed in such a public way."

Noonan urged organisations to take time to scope out implementations and stakeholder responsibilities before starting projects.

"While for many senior executives, governance is not the most exciting thing to do, not getting processes, roles and responsibilities clear up front appears to be at the heart of many project failures," he said.

"By the time a large, shared-services project is underway, it may be too late to make substantial changes to governance arrangement. Governance changes along the way are very likely to just add to the confusion and management complexity."

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