A recent Audit report identifies significant gaps in project management, and highlights the need for agencies to lift their game, in line with Gershon’s recommendations.
The Auditor report, The Approval of Small and Medium Sized Business System Projects, assessed whether selected agencies – DEEWR, DHA and DVA -- effectively managed the initial planning and approval of small and medium sized business system projects.
The audit examined 62 business projects from the three agencies. The focus was on the approval stage of business projects -- those with a new business system program rather than technology focus, or ICT projects within the agencies valued at less that $10m. The audit reviewed the process stated at project planning approvaland the actual process used, and examined the project results in the context of their approval.
Like the Gershon Report, which reviewed 193 projects and found significant problems with scheduling, cost-overruns and benefits realisation, the Auditor General found the three agencies often only pointed to non-specific, unmeasured benefits as outcome of their projects, with no specific plans for how these outcomes would be measured against the original business case.
Equally, while the agencies had good structure and practices documented, there was a significant gap between these and practice, with serious effects arising through the absence of effective controls around timing, cost and risk.
The report plays well into the hands of agencies keen to improve their performance for projects not subject to the Gateway Review process – those valued at less than $10m. It represents a further step in encouraging process maturity in the public sector, and should be read keenly by all project practitioners.