A number is sessions this afternoon, and first on the agenda was an update from UCISA. We talked about its aims, And then some of the developments being planned. UCISA organises a number of events, which are increasing and
representation and lobbying continues. The office team is being strengthened, and more commissioning of work will happen. Already about 100 volunteers from across the sector help out and this will help.
We also had an update on the JISC co design innovation initiative which I've already blogged about. At the moment we're thinking of projects and ideas to feed into the next phase, so if you've got a great idea which will benefit the sector, let me know! I'm pleased to see that the Summer of Student Innovation has been launched again, and we'll be promoting it to our students over the next few weeks.
Next session was on Why big IT projects go wrong from Alexander Budzier, of the Said Business School. An extremely interesting talk, and he started with the premise that large and complex IT projects can bring whole companies down. He had some interesting examples, ranging from a US health record one which started in 1970, but is still not finished, to KMart which was made bankrupt by two failed IT projects, to a local recent one, the BBC digital Media initiative.
He is part of a project which has studied 4307 IT projects worth $85bn.
The average costs overrun was 100% and the average schedule overrun was 37%. However, 18% fall outside of what is normal. Of these, the average overrun is 615%. He called them black swans, and they account for nearly 1 in 5 of IT projects. There's a much higher rate of black swans in IT projects compared to other project types eg building, energy rail, etc
Their study has shown that the root cause of risk is not technical, it is related to people and the risks are internal, not external
The cost overruns are not caused by scope, change, or innovation. They are mainly caused by cost underestimation, ie not taking into account scope change, complexity.
Bigger projects are not riskier than smaller projects and in fact the average cost risk decreases slightly with project size
Longer projects are more riskier, and the longer the project, the higher the risk of black swans.
Lack of benefits management is a key problem.
Very few projects manage the benefits and quantify them at the beginning of the project and then track them.
How can we spot black swans early?
Are distinctive patterns of cost escalation, and if the baseline wobbles very early, often during contract negotiations, this is a very good indicator.
One of the biggest warning signs is if your project is unique. You can't learn from others, can't compare and can't reality check.
The last session was on "Design thinking". I must admit, I just didn't get this. And he started by describing LEAN as a fad, which I also didn't get :-)
But, he did show a brilliant Eddie Izzard sketch about toasters and showers. Can't find it unfortunately, if anyone can let me have it and I'll include. It's definitely worth a watch.
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