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QLD ICT Dashboard subject to substantial variance

by Sam Murphy •
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While following an alternative line of enquiry, Intermedium has discovered that the Queensland Department of Transport and Main Roads’ (TMR) ICT Dashboard appears to have been subjected to heavily revised explanations of variance for three key projects. These revisions took effect immediately following Intermedium’s enquiries about the variance explanations that were given prior to 3 February.

Intermedium made enquiries of TMR on Thursday 30 January 2014 about its Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system due to its status at that time on the Queensland Government’s ICT dashboard which reports the status of agency ICT initiatives. 

At the time of Intermedium’s enquiries to TMR, and up until at least Monday 3 February, the Dashboard was showing its ERP project status as ‘red’. However, as of an update on 4 February, the dashboard was updated to show the project as ‘amber’.

‘Red’ means the project is forecasted to, or has already, exceeded tolerances, while ‘amber’ denotes initiatives that are still within tolerance, but pushing the bounds.

Two other multi-million dollar projects continue to show as ‘amber’, but also had their variance explanations radically altered from those stated on the Dashboard on 3 February.

ERP Upgrade Project

On 3 February, the variance explanation on the Dashboard for the ERP’s ‘red’ status was that, “the Budget is forecast to break tolerance. This is being driven by a higher level of scrutiny on the project, additional scope being introduced by Queensland Shared Services (QSS) and the need to replace Hardware.”

As of the 4 February update, the variance explanation for the now ‘amber’ project states “Cost is amber and tracking over budget due to additional scope and ongoing support costs. This is being driven by a higher level of scrutiny on the project, hardware replacement and external support costs. The project is partially funded from another agency source.”

The ERP upgrade was allocated $7.3 million according to the Dashboard, however, TMR has not provided a revised estimate accommodating the additional scope.

“A budget increase is always possible and dependent on the operating environment” a TRM spokesperson told Intermedium on Monday 3 February. It was maintained, however, that despite the increased scope, the project is still on track to be completed by June 2014 as originally specified.

The project was first flagged by the former TMR Chief Information Officer (CIO), Chris Fechner, who revealed in 2011 that a strategy was being developed to improve TMR’s ERP.

In October 2012, a contract of unspecified value was signed with Infosys for a ‘technical upgrade’ from R/3 4.6c to SAP ERP 6.0, which clearly implies a larger project was intended to follow the ERP ‘technical upgrade’. 

The contract posting states:

“A key element in the success of the TMR ERP strategy is to first complete the technical upgrade of the SAP system. The technical upgrade:

  • Will provide an upgrade from R/3 4.6c to SAP ERP 6.0, enhancement pack 6.
  • Provides a necessary foundation upon which TMR will implement a broader ERP strategy.
  • Upgrade the technical base that will bring the software employed into standard support that safeguards any future failure or bugs that might arise through normal operation
  • Deliver a richer functional baseline through the upgrade from which Finance and HR/Payroll processes can be enhanced within RoG design guidelines using current practice and recent technologies.

TMR require this upgrade to ensure they will have a supported system; the present system support will be discontinued by 2015.”

It was also expected this upgrade would support any future updates to the system.

According to the Department’s 2012-13 Annual Report, TMR intends to consolidate two separate legacy systems (human resources and payroll) “into a single shared environment, based on the SAP enterprise resource planning software”.

The TMR spokesperson told Intermedium, “The project was initially intended to be a 'technical upgrade' only. Subsequent discovery and reviews have shown this scope was insufficient to deliver the future state required.” The increased scope refers to the need to replace hardware in order to support the technical update.

Procurement Systems Project

The Procurement Systems Project aims to “Govern and guide the procurement reform program where information communication technology systems play a central role in the realisation of the benefits”, according to the ICT Dashboard. The project was originally budgeted at $2 million. TMR expects to achieve procurement reform savings of $240 million by 2015-16, according to its 2012-13 Annual report.

It too has had an update to its variance explanation.  As at Monday 3 February, it stated that the project was ‘amber’ because “Significant funding is required to generate the benefits identified.”

As of the 4 February update, the explanation was “Timeframe is amber because of a slippage in the schedule which is predominantly due to resources not commencing as planned in November 2013”.

The Access Management system

The Access Management system is intended to “Improve heavy vehicle and load movement safety through effective schemes, guidelines and conditions management”.

The ICT Dashboard indicates that it was first budgeted at $2.3 million but that the figure has been revised to $4.1 million.

On 3 February 2014, the variance explanation given was that it was amber “due to unacceptable quality of contracted deliverables”. It then went on to name the two contracted suppliers.

As of the 4 February update, the explanation given was that “Cost is amber because the Director General Council approval of the Gate 3 review is required before procurement can proceed delaying deployment of project resources.”

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