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Queensland Health woes provide valuable lessons on shared services

Queensland Health woes provide valuable lessons on shared services

By Kevin Noonan, Research Director at Ovum | Jul 23, 2010

IT governance needs urgent attention
For many managers, IT governance is not the most exciting of their duties; however, the lack of appropriate governance appears to be at the heart of many project failures.

The problem does not appear to be a lack of tools and methodologies – indeed, we appear to be awash with them. Instead, the problem appears to be in applying them to meet the needs of contemporary IT issues.

Traditional IT projects can still be deceptively difficult, even in the 21st century
For more than 40 years, payroll has been one of the key processes targeted for automation. There is certainly no shortage now of robust packaged software solutions aimed at the HR/finance market sector.

However, while generic solutions are abundant, there are still hidden challenges in delivering solutions that meet specific business requirements. Scope creep can become the deadly enemy of such projects, particularly where there are complex employment conditions to consider. This was certainly the case for Queensland Health’s payroll system.
Queensland Health is a diverse and complex government agency.
- It provides both metropolitan and remote health services to Australian citizens, across a land mass three quarters of the size of Western Europe.
- It has 13 different industrial awards and multiple industrial agreements, providing over 200 different allowances to its employees. It is the combined effect of this that really creates the problems.
- The current award structure leads to more than 24,000 different pay combinations to be calculated.

Queensland’s Auditor General found the project had suffered significant scope creep. Prime contractor IBM submitted over 47 contract change requests. The auditor found that these were mainly due to the business requirements not being clearly articulated and agreed to at the outset of the project. This in turn led to significant problems during development and system testing.

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