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“There is no point in an ICT project” says South Australia

by Paris Cowan •
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Faced with budget strife, ageing infrastructure and the ever expanding expectations of its populace, the South Australian Government has raised the possibility of smashing the paradigm of the ICT project cycle altogether in pursuit of better ways of doing business.

In a draft ICT position paper that will presage the shape and direction of the State’s new ICT strategy, the Government has even questioned the need to replace legacy ICT systems, preferring to operate them in parallel with gradually implemented replacements until they “atrophy”.

“Ripping out and replacing systems may seem like a straightforward and strategic response to dealing with so called ‘legacy’ systems,” says the draft plan. “[But] in fact, history teaches us that we may be just creating a legacy for the next generation to worry about”.

“Sometimes, they are better left alone, safely isolated via technology ‘wrappers’ that help insulate them from the rest of our technical ecosystem. Over time, data and processes can be progressively shifted to newer, more efficient platforms, an approach which essentially sees legacy systems atrophying, eventually being phased out,” it says.

Breaking mammoth ICT tasks into smaller, more manageable phases may be common sense for project managers – and it is a path that other jurisdictions such as Victoria have taken up enthusiastically in their own ICT strategies – but SA has raised the possibility of taking this a step further by targeting a 90-day turnaround for ICT outcomes.

“From now on, we’re not going to start up any more big ‘ICT’ projects. We’re only going to have service/information/productivity improvement projects. Projects will be shorter, typically 90 days at most, and they will be planned and delivered by multi‑disciplinary teams, not just IT,” says the draft plan.

The 90-day ICT initiative is just one aspect of the South Australia Connected position paper, which places an emphasis on nurturing innovation, online service delivery, and inter-agency information and solution sharing, but makes little comment on any reforms to ICT investment priorities.

The purpose of the position paper is to generate feedback on its scope, areas of emphasis and overall positioning ahead of the launch of a new ICT strategy due in the first half of 2013.

Other key proposals in the draft paper include:

  • Making all new services “digital by default”;
  • Ensuring that communications infrastructure is resilient enough to withstand natural disaster;
  • Encouraging multi-agency cabinet submissions for funding;
  • Requiring that business cases for funding demonstrate genuine efforts to re-use existing solutions; and
  • Upgrading the South Australian Government Exchange (SAGE) platform to facilitate greater collaboration.

The position paper will be formally launched by the Premier of South Australia Jay Weatherill in Adelaide tomorrow.

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  • SA
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  • Policy
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  • Jay Weatherill
  • SA ICT Strategy