The NSW Auditor-General has found that Sydney Water Corporation’s major asset management consolidation project (Maximo) has been further delayed at additional cost to an already blown-out budget. The finding came as part of an audit of financial statements of the State’s environment, climate change and water agencies, released on Wednesday 24 November.
Despite the corporation’s ongoing issues with the implementation of Maximo, the audit also found that Sydney Water’s IT Department “completed nine major IT projects in 2009-10”. Completed projects include:
- Sydney Water Information Management (SWIM)Phase 1;
- Field Resources Management (FRM)Phase 2;
- Email System Replacement;
- Customer Business Intelligence; and
- Enterprise Portal Integration.
Originally scheduled for completion in August 2009, Maximo had already been further delayed due to a reported underestimation of the complexity of the project, and was due for release in October 2010. The updated delivery date has not yet been finalised and according to the audit report, “at the time of writing, an assessment of the service delivery date is being made”.
The delayed service delivery is expected to cost an additional $9.0 million, on top of the already-extended $31 million budget. The total project cost is now twice the original budget of $18 million.
NSW Auditor-General Peter Achterstraat has reiterated the general importance of sound government ICT service delivery. “It is imperative that Government computer projects are well thought out, budgeted for and governed to deliver benefit to the NSW taxpayer,” he said in a statement accompanying the audit report’s release.
The report explains that “the main cause for the revised delivery date is the additional effort required for the development and testing of Hydra, Sydney Water’s geographic information system”.
The project uses off-the-shelf IBM Maximo asset management software and Fujitsu has been contracted as the systems integrator, a Sydney Water spokesperson has told Intermedium.
The report follows a series of audits over the past few years that have discovered delays and budget blowouts in ICT and other projects, including its implementation of a Siebel customer relationship management system, which has also now doubled its original budget allocation.
In May 2010, the Sydney Morning Heraldreported that Sydney Water had attempted to manipulate a NSW Auditor-General report when it was sent to the corporation for fact-checking, replacing critical sentences with an explanation that “the Maximo project continues to track to the schedule and budget revised in 2008”. The report was subsequently released in its original format with minor amendments, but the episode highlighted Sydney Water’s sensitivity to criticisms of project failure.
Of the successful projects delivered in 2009-10, the Audit Report found that the FRM Phase 2 and the Email Replacement System have been delivered under budget, by $500,000 and $900,000 respectively.
By contrast, the SWIM Phase 1 project was delivered significantly over its original budget of $6.9 million, coming in at $9.9 million. The audit report explains that “the main reason for the increase in the cost of the Sydney Water Information Management Phase 1 was the need to purchase software as a single software suite”.
Furthermore, while the majority of projects were delivered on or under time, both the FRM Phase 2 and Enterprise Portal Integration projects were delayed by a period of four months and three months respectively.
The report also stated that Sydney Water recorded an after-tax profit of $445.9 million, an increase of almost $200 million on the previous year.