Article - My Open Letter to the BC Ministry of Health: How to Address the Mess You Are in


Recently the Canadian media reported that the government of British Columbia has launched a "thoughtful reset" (whatever the heck that means) of its Information Technology projects due to major delays, cost overruns and failure to deliver the scope promised.

According to the Vancouver Sun newspaper:

  • Of eight high-profile IT projects recently undertaken by government — with a total price tag of $2.5 billion — several have faced serious difficulties and collectively they’ve overshot their budgets by a combined $350 million and counting.
  • The two large-scale health projects that have faltered are a national infectious disease system that has cost B.C. 420 per cent of the budgeted amount, and a massive computer transformation project in Vancouver Coastal Health that’s beset by firings and delays while still in the design phase.
  • Panorama, the error-prone infectious disease outbreak software, was budgeted at $27 million in B.C., but cost $113 million. To add insult to injury it was riddled with more than 11,000 defects and errors.

As a result of that, the Deputy Health Minister Stephen Brown, Health Minister Terry Lake, Liberal MLA Ralph Sultan, and an NDP critic Adrian Dix (please, please tag them in this post if you are connected with them!) had asked a whole bunch of very interesting and thoughtful questions (see below) that I intend to answer in my today's article:

Questions and "Oh, So Inconvenient" Answers

Question# 1:

How to get realistic about budgets, timelines and expectations? How do you make sure the aspirations at the beginning are grounded enough you’ve got some assurance you are going to deliver?

Answer #1:

Here are some of the usual suspects you may want to look at: