IT Project Failures

Catalog of major I.T. projects which have failed to deliver.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Cargo Management Reengineering

Australian Customs


Websphere, DB2, ZOS Mainframe


Design detail in the 19,000 pages of analysis for ICS includes 800 screens, 16,000 business rules, 70 complex business messages, 850 database tables, 3700 executable load modules, 1800 CICS transaction types, 55 batch jobs, 90 reports and 35 system interfaces. (Source: ACS)

Technology Infrastructure prescribed by Legislation

Legislation passed in 2001 created a legal framework for electronic cargo management secured by Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) using the GateKeeper accredited certification authority to deliver registration or certification services to meet Commonwealth standards.


Not performant.
Cost blowout from $33m to $240m.
Blames users.
Usability problems.

Big bang approach with new rule sets introduced

"The problems experienced in part, flow from inaccurate and incomplete information being submitted by some users, which the new system is designed not to accept for security reasons," the spokesperson said.

Type of failure
Estimation error

Not phased in. Not running old and new system in parallel.
The system that it replaced was 4 years old.

Follow up
The Federal Government has introduced the UK Gateway methodology to manage IT project risk.

Personnel Management Key Solution

Department of Defense


organisational structures, personnel administration and leave, career management, workforce planning as well as recruitment and payroll.

Cost blowout
Originally estimated to cost $25 million, in 2002 Defence admitted that the project was going to end up costing in the order of $70 million.

“It is the nature of the military salary and allowance processes and systems that is substantially more complex than in the civilian world.”

Source: Defence's payroll system explodes

House of Representatives Payroll System

House of Representatives

  • temporarily canceled some employees' jobs,
  • mishandled paycheck withholdings
  • added extra money

Payroll systems have been implemented badly by many sites. In many ways, payroll systems should be one least likely to be wrong, because it is possible to run parallel systems and cross check results. If one system computes one pay, and another computes a different result, you know you have a bug.

Unfortunately, the number of bugs can overwhelm the developers when a system is rolled out. This means additional money must be invested to run the systems in parallel, perhaps some form of integration between the old system and the new system.

Source: ERHMS

Council Payroll System

Brisbane City Council


  • Staff reclassified from permanent to casual

  • 1400 complaints from staff who either received no pay, were underpaid or overpaid

  • gave staff two days' pay for each sick day

Reasons for failure
Payroll system's implementation on June 27 was not supported by the council's payroll team

Source: The Courier Mail

Personnel, Payroll and Related Systems

Source: ComputerWorld

Project Name
Personnel, Payroll and Related Systems

Project Vendor
Deloitte & Touche LLP


Irish Health Service


After being launched around 1995, the project was budgeted at $10.7 million and was expected to take three years. After 10 years, the expected price tag has rocketed to $180 million.

Made widespread payroll errors


Complexity of the system it was replacing was cited as a factor. There were over 2,500 variations in payment arrangements across the entire health system.


Major rewrites of Personnel and Payroll systems, especially where consolidation is the main aim, is fraught with risks, as the business rules that apply in the legacy system can be fairly arbitrary.