By Tom Abram and Mark Jones

May 2022

Project Management has been a hot topic in the IT world for many years and coverage in press, government reports and business publications is all-too-often stimulated by failure to deliver.  So, it is a delight to publish a success story by Stephen Baker here about his experience of success in a very high-profile project early in the new millennium.

Why is this a surprise?  Setting aside aspersions later cast on the organisation concerned, in 2021 the influential Standish Group reported 83.9% of IT Projects Fail!  Ever since IT became the silver bullet of strategic advantage and cost reduction, its failure to deliver has made headlines.  Government IT Project failure was a constant theme of the Blair Government’s Modernising Government initiative, most spectacularly embodied in the NHS National Programme for IT (NPfIT) but endemic in almost every project of the 90s and noughties.  To be fair, it was not confined to the public sector.  In the intense Government scrutiny of project failure, led by the Office of Government Commerce, around the millennium, the Standish Report of 1994 was often quoted and shows that the problem was endemic across sectors.  Ann Moffatt’s story of AMP is informative.

In those days, I was running a business providing tools, consultancy and people to make projects work, and my colleague Mark Jones was delivering mega programmes in the City.  Based on that experience we offer some observations on what could go wrong with IT projects, as background to the success described in Stephen Baker’s story.