Information and communications technology (ICT) is a significant enabler in the delivery of government programs and services. With government’s increasing reliance on ICT to deliver services and manage information, it is of critical importance that ICT projects are successfully implemented. However, VAGO’s April 2015 audit Digital Dashboard: Status Review of ICT Projects and Initiatives – Phase 1 confirmed that agencies and entities find planning and implementing ICT projects particularly complex and difficult. Many of these projects come in well over budget and are delivered much later than scheduled or, on occasion, are cancelled prior to completion. This second phase of the audit examined in greater detail six of the projects reported in Phase 1 to assess governance effectiveness and benefits realisation.
ICT projects in the Victorian Government should be more effectively planned and managed to avoid cost and schedule overruns. This audit confirms that ICT projects continue to show poor planning and implementation, resulting in significant delays and budget blowouts. Nevertheless, we saw some elements of better practice at the University of Melbourne and Yarra Valley Water which contributed to the completion of their respective ICT-enabled projects. While clearly defined governance arrangements do not necessarily guarantee a successful ICT project, agencies should work on developing a robust culture of active governance at the senior management level, to make informed decisions and to effectively engage with consultants and vendors. The challenges faced by agencies included in this audit are not unique. There are opportunities to learn from the experience of other similarly situated agencies, to better plan and implement effective ICT projects. Agencies would greatly benefit from revisiting and applying the lessons learned by others in the planning and implementation of their ICT projects. VAGO’s July 2008 better practice guide Investing Smarter in Public Sector ICT continues to be sound and relevant, and may be used as a starting point for managing ICT projects more effectively.