This critique is about the major project failure of Queensland Health IS implementation which is refereed as the largest admitted IT project failure. The project cost a total of over $125 billion AUD (KPMG 2012) including stabilization and maintenance. This was 300% over the estimated budget and in addition, the project was 18 months behind schedule. The authors have put light on various factors that were responsible for the failure.
It is seen that there is a high failure rate in IS implementation projects and when it comes to healthcare industry, there is even more complexity. There are various reasons for these failures. Queensland Health used a payroll system called LATTICE and ESP rostering system for paying their employees. However, due to increasing complexity in the payroll system, the LATTICE system was becoming obsolete and there was a need of a new system. Queensland government then established CorpTech within the Queensland treasury to oversee implementations across departments as part of the SSI (Shared Services Initiative) (Poole 2010). CorpTech was therefore responsible for the consultant selection process. In 2007, IBM was appointed as the prime contractor for the implementation. In the Queensland Health project, there were various factors involved. One of them was that there was not enough transparency in the consultant selection process. Experts said that IBM was given an unfair advantage over its competitors. The government also did not state their requirements clearly. This led to prolonged delays in the completion of the implementation. This was majorly because of the complexities in the project which the implementers failed to understand. Moreover, the implementation strategy used was to be based on Department of Housing solution which was a smaller department of the government with different functioning methodologies which added to the already existing trouble. Queensland Health provides healthcare services to about 40,000 people per day and is responsible for approximately 85,000 employees across 300 sites (Queensland Health 2013b) .However, in case of Queensland health project, only unit testing was performed with just 10% of the employees and as there was increasing pressure on the government because of huge delays in going live, they decided to go live without full testing of all the functionalities in March 2010(Chesterman 2013; Poole 2010). One of the important reasons for this failure was that the relationship between the client, consultant and vendors was not clear. Overall, this failure was due to disobeying of many important project management principles such as lack of requirement definition, underestimating the complexity of the project, ineffective communication etc.
We see that for an IS system to succeed, it is very important to do every step right. Even a slight error of judgment may result in severe losses and systems may fail. In case of Queensland health project, prescriptive project methodologies were not followed. However, after such a huge IS implementation failure, Queensland government improved their ICT strategies and governance radically and their ICT strategy consisted of (1) at-risk ICT asset stabilization and (2) portfolio, program and project management competency, which focus on lifecycle management plan to minimize the criticality of replacing IS(Queensland Government 2013). These positive steps are necessary to make sure that such a disaster does not happen again.