Article - What is Your Take on This: Throw Over the Fence Project Management


While project management has been almost fully embraced by the private sector in most of the developed (and certain parts of the developing) world, the government sector still remains a curious wonderland where large projects get initiated and "executed" without any professional involvement of project managers. And yes, I am omitting words like "planned", "monitored" and "controlled" on purpose!

I remember one interesting conversation that took place with an employee of a large government agency, whose management continued to claim that "project management was a waste of time" and that "in any case, we outsource the entire project to a construction company, so why should we bother?"

Me: So tell me, how do you run projects here?

E: Well, at some point of time someone up there (points to the ceiling) decides to build a new port facility ...

Me: And then?

E: The Steering Committee obtains the money based on some very arbitrary estimate and announces to all our departments that the project will be starting on January 1. The Real Estate department is the first on the scene since they have to acquire the land for the future development. They take care of that and pass the files to the Legal department ...

Me: And what happens then?

E: The head of the Legal department is very surprised to see these documents, but the representative of the Real Estate team exclaims, "Remember we had a discussion about this project a couple of months ago? Well, here you go! My job here is done". The head of the Legal team suddenly remembers the now-vague conversation that took place at the Steering Committee meeting, curses and assigns the case to one of his overworked lawyers.

Me: OK, but that is not the end of the story ...

E: Oh no, you ain't heard nothing yet! Begrudgingly the Legal team prepares all of the documents required and one day surprises the next victim - the Planning department. Keep in mind that by that time the historical Steering Committee meeting is three or four months behind us. So, the Planning department has already lost any recollection about that project.

Me: And how do they react to this?

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: