Having recently conducted a survey of the Department of Corrections in each of the 50 states, we found their systems ages ranged from 5 years- to more than 35 years-old, with a mean average system age of over 20 years. This inventory of aging systems is driving a new wave of modernizations and, unfortunately, project failures as well. So, in 2013, we’ll see the wave of modernization for many government entities in the US (particularly large counties and states) continue. Inasmuch as there are a significant number of systems being selected and installed, we still find that many of the organizations try to manage this process by themselves.
No Definition of Business Requirements
Unfortunately we continue to see a lack of business and technical requirements definition during the planning phase for modernization. Many clients simply take the vendor’s plan and processes and implement them in spite of their sometimes unique and custom requirements for effective business.
A recent set of studies published by McKinsey Quarterly provides further evidence that projects large and small fail. However, large projects not only fail more often, they deliver less. According to the McKinsey/Oxford study half of IT projects with budgets of over $15 million dollars run 45% over budget, are 7% behind schedule and deliver 56% less functionality than predicted.
Business Driven Project IV&V
More government organizations are deciding to drive the project management themselves from a Department perspective vs. IT supporting this type effort. In spite of strides in developing Project Managers, many public sector Information Technology organizations still lack significant Project Management experience. The current trend is that Government Department leadership is directly taking responsibility for project success instead of depending on their IT organization.
Department leadership is selecting independent consulting firms to provide a detailed look at business requirements and technical capability assessment as well as managing the selected vendor over the life cycle of implementations. Large-scale system modernization requires a look at the business first, then a determination of how and what technology can best meet the business objectives.
We see successful enterprises utilizing outside expertise to fully engage the business community in developing a set of business requirements that reflect the current and future processes which will in turn drive efficiency and effectiveness once the system is implemented. In addition, developing an enterprise architecture that reflects the business is essential to successful modernization. The Independent Verification and Validation (IV&V) support brings not only expertise in vendor management, but also in building relationships within the client business organization and across organizational and political barriers.
Bottom Line: Independent Experience Counts
IV&V is becoming increasingly recognized by the business as an essential ingredient in modernization of technology, processes and the business itself.
[Editor’s Note: This post is part of the annual “Cutter Predicts …” series.]