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Actually Implement OGC PRINCE2 Practice

Comment 15th July 2010

Gov. IT contracts are typically very expensive to let – the cost to Gov. and to all the bidders.  Bidders are then required to submit firm-fixed-price service delivery proposals spanning typcially 10 years against a badly defined set of requirements (hence the risk element is high).   Then the requirements change and it all goes pear shaped… again.

Instead, OGC already promotes use of PRINCE2 with shared project boards to inject pragmatism and cooperation between the suppliers, contracting authority, and the business users.  It allows planning the next phase based on firm understanding of progress to date, and doesn't pretend to see 15 years in the future…   Further, it provides for a really sound review before each next phase is started – allowing the scheme to be cancelled if what is now known makes it too hard, too expensive, irrelevant etc. Sounds wonderful and is not used.  Why?  Because Treasury et al insist on firm-fixed-price thus guaranteeing an adversarial relationship.

My suggestion:  move to open-book, shared reward type contracts with phased delivery based on PRINCE2 (and OGC gateways).  Scrap the nonsense about 'having to advertise in the OJEU' – by all means advertise there if it makes sense but other times it just introduces delays. Also, vastly reduce the number of suppliers invited to tender – or at least weed it down to 2 (or 3) right at the start.  The bidding costs are simply too high and all need to be recovered somewhere by the suppliers.  After that, empower the PM and the project board to make decisions, move goals etc. and stop the rot early – by killing the programme if appropriate.

Why does this matter?

Gov. IT projects cost to much to let, too much to deliver, and don't work.  All these aspects require change if they are to be successfully addressed.

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