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Auckland Council IT Blowout; Guest Post

Written By: - Date published: 6:26 pm, March 6th, 2016 - 62 comments
Categories: accountability, act, auckland supercity, community democracy, infrastructure, local government, national, public services, rodney hide, water - Tags: , ,

Guest Post from SaveNZ:

The massive budget blow out in Auckland Council’s IT budget is the direct result of the incompetent way in which the NACT government set up the SuperCity. It was made worse by the way council ran the NewCore project, using mates and cronies with little or no experience of integration of core IT systems.

Mark Ford (appointed by National Government, via ACT’s Rodney Hide) created a massive mess when he set up the transition authority. He ignored modern business practices and ignored sensible advice by dividing transition planning into siloed ‘work streams’, and relegating IT to a minor role inside ‘infrastructure’.

Ford showed little understanding of, or care about, the critical, extensive and expensive role IT plays in modern businesses and not for profit entities. The result is a massive cost overrun.

IT industry best practice is to conduct an ‘application portfolio analysis’, analysing existing IT assets using a framework to classify what to do with these assets. Instead, Ford baked a home grown approach, supported mostly by Deloitte with ‘auditing’ by  Ernst & Young, with little consideration given to the costs and complexities of change, and how the existing assets could play a role in the new Council.

Various experts identified this silo approach as a problem, but Ford decided to ignore them.

Once the SuperCity came into being, Ford’s previous Chief Information Officer from Watercare, Mike Foley, (ex SkyCity, Deloitte, Ernst & Young as well) was appointed as CIO, and proceeded to make every IT mistake in the book.

Normally, a programme steering group would be appointed with representation from business owners and consumers, with clear lines of accountability. Once established, this group would appoint a highly experienced  core systems Enterprise IT architect to blueprint the future state and they would retain design control. Essentially they are the ‘Architect’ of the entire project, having a role similar to an architect writing the blueprint for a new house.

Requirements from key stakeholders, represented in the steering group, would be gathered and the IT architect would use these to create the plans for the new solution. Again, ideally, experienced resources would be employed, and these would be peer reviewed by another top Enterprise IT architect.

Instead, with no previous experience of application development, complex integration or even large scale transformation, Foley set up the IT transformation programme without following this best practice, and used inexperienced internal staff and contractors from his previous employers.

Foley also created a governance model with no business representation, which was later identified by Ernst and Young as being totally inadequate. Reading their report is a real shocker as it appears none of the normal governance best-practices were followed.

But even following the Ernst and Young recommendations would not be considered ‘best practise’, according to my sources in council. The council’s governance re-design still fails to follow industry practice as it has no representation from the Enterprise Architect in decision making. Essentially, the person who designed the system then gets locked out of enforcing it.

My sources working in Council at this time claim that the programme team, principally run by Deloitte, burnt through nearly $50 million of council money without writing a single requirement. This means it would be impossible to ensure the solution actually delivered something that was needed. Deloitte have history here, as they apparently also blew $28 million on a property records management project with no requirements and no discernible improvements.

This massive failure was confirmed by Council’s own reporting around this time, which identified major problems with scope changes and designs not being signed off when they were supposed to be building the solution. It is surprising that even after apparently identifying failures from Deloitte the Council still keep throwing ratepayers cash at them.

To add to the problem, around the time this IT project was being planned, many of the few quality Auckland Council IT staff left, as their concerns and recommendations were being ignored. Other divisions, like ATEED, simply broke away  to create cheaper and working  IT systems.

Incredibly, the poor programme governance, poor decision making, and lack of accountability identified in the reports were still occurring. For example, Foley decided to undertake a major re-design of NewCore, which blew time and a lot of money, and threw out the existing software used for property, consents and LIM’s (Pathway), in favour of heavily customising the expensive off the shelf SAP package. Maybe this was based on a 19 year old SAP project he once worked on in the UK. Who knows?

Customisations of massive monolithic software such as SAP hugely increase long term costs as every update to the product (e.g. new version, security update etc) has to be tested by Council against their customisations. Eventually the core product diverges significantly from the customised code and the entire IT system has to be re-written, again at massive cost.

This has also been the experience of a major NZ utility firm, who’s customised version of SAP has locked them into a lifetime of exceptionally costly testing, re-coding and upgrading as SAP changes. These problems are well known in the IT industry, but were ignored by the council’s IT leadership.

Rather than go down this insane path, Auckland Council could have acknowledged its lack of experience and skills, used top IT firms and personal who specialise (and have recent references) for integrating core IT systems at reasonable value without failure and long term costs of maintenance.  If truly experienced,  these firms would have looked at integrated solutions designed specifically for Council’s and at a fraction of the price.

For example, Technology One, used in several NZ Councils, provide a plain vanilla suite of Council enterprise applications, for less than a tenth of the cost of the customised SAP processes used in NewCore.

In the end, Auckland Council have left our largest city with a huge mess of their own creation due to their cronyism, incompetence, culture of arrogance, lack of accountability, and inability to even understand how to approach the problem let alone how to solve it. It’s frustrating that Mike Foley resigned late last year rather than face the music for his decisions.

The costs exceeding 1 billion dollars which we the ratepayers have borne for the last 5 years cannot be recovered and the white elephant IT system will keep on being a massive cost for Auckland ratepayers. That means that positive changes that the council could be making are left on the back burner.

This needs to be seen in the context of how central control of the Supercity is really playing out. Cronies and mates being appointed has meant more than a billion of ratepayers cash has been committed to the IT build with little to show for it.

While IT is a ‘yawn’ for many people, the failure of IT structures is a massive burden on any operation. Big projects need to be closely scrutinised as failures can quickly cripple an organisation. Despite their size and dominant position, councils are also vulnerable to bankruptcy and then ratepayers are forced into bailing them out.

We see what has happened in the USA when Detroit council went bankrupt. The banks took over and shut off ratepayers’ water. The courts ruled that ‘water was not a human right’.

Locally, the Kaipara council went on their own secret spending spree with ratepayers money on a white elephant waste water system that, in spite of being audited, did not raise enough flags. The rates rose a shocking 20% and the resulting council debt is now considered unsustainable by many.

Under the ‘central control’ of the Supercity the democratically elected mayor and councillors have been left with little real power and are now at the mercy of a business structure totally out of control with zero accountability to the public. This is not an issue we can blame the elected representatives for failing to control. This not something Mayor Brown and the councillors have any effective control over at all.

The Supercity was set up this way from the start. The elected council has no real oversight powers and as the potential IT spend was not costed correctly at the start, that’s been a costly NACT political decision for the rate payers of Auckland to cough up for.

The warning is very clear. The supercity structure is highly vulnerable to massive cost overruns.

It’s vision seems to be more about appointing mates to push through a National government agenda than actually serving the ratepayers of Auckland.

In addition, there are potential further problems coming our way because of the TPP.  Here in NZ, we have potentially billions to be spent on IT and other compliances as a result of signing up to that dodgy deal.

The government is reckless to have signed up to TPP without having a detailed costing of the IT and other related expenses for all Kiwi businesses and organisations. If you want to see how that kind of willful blindness ends up, you only have to look at the Auckland City Council’s IT department. It’s a brutal lesson in how to get the basics badly wrong.

62 comments on “Auckland Council IT Blowout; Guest Post”

  1. Sacha 1

    I will feel more comfortable when we have a source other than the unreliable Mr Orsman for the costs involved, but what you say of the process fits what I’ve heard. People way out of their depth and jobs for the boys.

  2. tc 2

    Hide, ford and foley personify the arrogance at play here.

    Many held their breath when hide looked to ford who was an old school authoritarian with no experience in such restructures who had a bullying aggressive demenour.

    There’s some very ordinary people making a shitload of cash still because they are in the club at super city and my insiders are telling me nothing’s changed.

    Foleys departure means one less incompetent, he got badly found out having to construct something as like most of those big 4 folk they’re not creators just troughers as he was at Watercare.

  3. Dr. Curiosity 3

    Who or what is SaveNZ? The analysis seems like a pretty comprehensive one, but I’d still like to know who’s making it, and whether or not they have a dog in the race (so to speak) when it comes to this sort of project.

    [Real life identities are kept well protected here at TS. However, as you’ve spotted, saveNZ has an authoritative voice. Feel free to comment on the issues in the post. TRP]

    • Dr. Curiosity 3.1

      Ah – pseudonymous user of the site rather than a publicly disclosed person or organisation? Fair call, then. I agree that user privacy is paramount, and won’t inquire further.

      I’m not without my own biases, of course. Personally and professionally I’m more in favour of systems using open standards and open frameworks rather heavily-modified proprietary systems. It levels the playing field for vendors. It lowers – indeed, removes – ongoing licensing costs for customers. It makes it easier to ensure continuity and long service life, because knowledge about supporting and modifying the system isn’t subject to gatekeeping by a single company or development team.

      That’s not to say that such systems don’t require a considerable capital outlay, mind. To get a system that works well for everyone – internal to councils and external – is still going to require a lot of iterations in design, validation, development, and testing to ensure you get a good result. It _does_ mean you can be more confident of what you’re getting, with less risk exposure if it turns out that delivery isn’t being met.

      Ultimately though, as the author alludes to, massive revamps in IT systems _have_ to have some focus on the people. Sign-off by managers that something will do what it says on the tin is all well and good, but the people who use these systems need to be involved. Not just for morale: to ensure that you’re getting something that will be effective, with design decisions that make sense below the boardroom and out into the public. Without the effective part, “cost effective” is just plain costly.

  4. Eh? 4

    “Here in NZ, we have potentially billions to be spent on IT and other compliances as a result of signing up to that dodgy deal.”

    Please elaborate.

    • greywarshark 4.1

      It seems to be a regular occurrence. Why do you need elaboration? Just observation would suffice.

    • One Two 4.2

      Aucklanders are on the hook for an unending period of time , as long as the belief exists that the integration’s ever stand a chance to be completed

      They can’t be, and they won’t

      Auckland is locked in …… deep

      • greywarshark 4.2.1

        Just think of Novopay. Failed but couldn’t be abandoned, loss of face, loss of money already spent, contract arguments. And who cares in government anyway. The politicians and their friends don’t want government to do a good job. The money is now in private business firms coming and offering to put things right, for a very reasonable sum. There is no commitment to good government, the object is to seem to be doing something new, and quoting that it has been done ‘overseas’ so we can all be duly impressed.

        IT offers squillions in salaries and profits by players on the technology stage, looking important, talking big, having conferences, and not discussing with their staff who administer the programs what is needed, or what is not being achieved now, and where the most time and work is put in to keep the systems operating safely, so they can avoid investing in more of the same. The whole thing should be integrated with the experienced staff getting a big say in decision making for the most efficient system that has the right support within the spending objective.

        Instead there are numerous cases of mishandling. Fraud – wasn’t the Southern District Health Board subject to this. People in the decision making process with personal financial interest in the choice of gear (have I got a good deal for you – from my business or connections) and other rorts, apart from jobs for the boys appointments, and personal charisma and reputation without real substance from deep knowledge of the IT field. And are the bad decision makers taken to task – I think not. They are too big, and their superiors too, to have egg on their faces.
        One I read about involved I think in a hospital system debacle, was farewelled and now has a very nice house with a pleasant sea view.

        I am writing from memory but there are numerous examples of IT decisions going belly up available to those who care to do some exploration on the web. And let’s not forget INCIS, the police system that cost us plenty for not much in the end.

    • Have you read some of the copyright compliance stuff? We would basically be required to rewrite our copyright laws to adopt many of the worst provisions of a hated US copyright law, the DMCA, which among other things makes it illegal to circumvent a system intended for copyright protection, regardless of whether you are actually using that circumvention to make unlicensed copies. (So you could, for instance, be charged for taking an old regionalised DvD player and bypassing the region check)

      So some things that we don’t currently need to do to “protect copyrights” will become big deals. Businesses like Megaupload would be far more vulnerable to pre-emptive takedown orders, for instance. (Megaupload itself is a bad example as much of what it was used for was actually piracy, despite having systems in place to take down copyrighted content, but it’s a worrying precedent that the law gives copyright holders the ability to pre-emptively demand content be taken down before any violation is established to any degree)

    • saveNZ 4.4

      Pharmac is a pretty well known example that will need costly IT compliance work if TPPA goes ahead, estimated by the government at 30 million….

      Supercity IT was apparently estimated at $200 million by the government and costs have exceeded 1 billion so far apparently for Auckland ratepayers, and the integration is barely (if at all) working after 5 years.

      As some people have pointed out, we could have got the rail loop built instead with the billion dollars of Auckland Ratepayers money.

      The shear amount of Auckland ratepayers money disappearing is mind boggling as is that nobody in Auckland council like the CEO has noticed the astounding overrun or considered it a problem or tried to contain it.

  5. greywarshark 5

    Mark Ford and Foley both in Watercare. It seems that there is a charmed circle wherein these magnetic personalities charge about like blue flames in a Faraday ball.

    NBR on Mark Ford to his death in October 2014.
    http://www.nbr.co.nz/category/category/mark-ford

    And a write up of the dead man by Michael Field for stuff buried from the cathedral in Parnell. Even in death, grandiose.
    http://www.stuff.co.nz/business/industries/10624942/Visionary-Mark-Ford-farewelled

    All you need to know how to achieve a charmed life and die early but rich.
    In 2010 NZ HERALD Ford the invisible autocrat. Chris Barton March 2010
    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10630173
    If you need a tricky job done in Auckland, someone who will quietly, behind the scenes, do what it takes and deliver on time and within budget, there is really only one person to call.
    Whether you want Aucklanders to drink water from the murky Waikato River, make them ride public transport again or happily accept the amalgam known as the Super City, “The Fixer” can make it so. His fee starts at $540,000 a year.
    Mark Ford is a disciplined man. He rises at 4.30am, spends around an hour working out in his gymnasium, followed by a swim and sauna – “my thinking time”.
    At work he’s systematic, a stickler for proper process, runs a tight ship, can’t abide lateness or, apparently, brown shoes and people who wear pens in their shirt pocket. He’s not a night person.

  6. RedLogix 6

    What entirely baffles me is exactly how the IT industry gets away with these massive failures. How did $1b get spent without delivering the desired result?

    In any other engineering business I’ve been involved with … if you don’t deliver you are out of the game. Period.

    The key to all technological change is to break it down into layers and components, design a powerful and well-defined interface between them … and then incrementally build and test the hell out of each one progressively. With clear deliverables at each step. The system architect is responsible for designing and enforcing the road-map, and no-one gets bloody paid unless until they meet the agreed targets.

    Any scope creep or engineering changes are subject to a strict formal review process, with clear accountability for the impacts.

    At the same time it has to be understood that local Councils are exceedingly complex businesses. And integrating multiple such businesses, each with their own history and level of capability is a very challenging task.

    And to be honest SAP (usually known as Stop All Progress to the poor bloody staff on whom it’s inflicted) has an exceptionally bad record in this area. The sole driver on which it is usually picked is because the big auditor companies (like Deloitte) are very committed to it globally. It makes life much easier and way more profitable for them.

    In my personal experience the implementation of SAP in my prior public sector role literally halved our productivity. And I mean that quite literally … no rhetoric intended.

    But all these are known problems. People with far greater expertise than mine understand all these issues in depth. In order to have arrived at such completely wrong outcome I conclude the process must have been designed to fail from the outset. The inevitable challenges and gaps in oversight that would arise from Rodney Hide’s corruptly implemented Super City structures created obvious opportunities for well-placed insiders in the industry to milk the quite predictable instability and dysfunction for all it was worth.

    It’s Royal Commission territory really; but Key’s govt won’t care. Their mates have made out just fine and all is good.

    • Sacha 6.1

      “How did $1b get spent without delivering the desired result?”

      Agree with you about the process and context but as said above, am needing evidence beyond Mr Orsman’s flimsy reckons about the amount and usefulness of the spend.

      • RedLogix 6.1.1

        I agree that it’s unlikely nothing was delivered. But in my world – industrial automation – there is a much stronger culture of delivering results. Not just billable hours, but actual systems that deliver good value.

        And we seem to be able to do it without endless layers of expensive architects, analysts and consultants. I realise my world is a modest little niche that’s technically less challenging, but I have to say on every occasion I’ve had the misfortune to have to deal with the conventional IT culture, I’ve come away from the experience deeply underwhelmed.

        • One Two 6.1.1.1

          Integrating systems is nothing like any industry with the words Architecture or Engineering in them. It’s vapour built on tin which has been patched up and bridged together over an extended period of time

          There was not a single example of local councils being consolidated and merged in such a way, of relative complexity, disparity and scale

          It was not going to be possible, and will never deliver benefits to the city that were ‘promised’

          That is not what it was designed to do

          • Sacha 6.1.1.1.1

            IT in any large organisational ecosystem like councils is about supporting business systems and changes in those. Success rests higher than any of the strictly-IT players can control.

            NZ’s senior leaders are found in global productivity benchmarking surveys to be weak at governance. Wonder where the problem lies?

            • Draco T Bastard 6.1.1.1.1.1

              NZ’s senior leaders are found in global productivity benchmarking surveys to be weak at governance. Wonder where the problem lies?

              Yep. Our ‘managers’ couldn’t manage a piss up in a brewery. Unfortunately, they all seem to fail upwards.

              • greywarshark

                Our ‘managers’ belong to a good union, that is very supportive. And it assists those labouring (to a small extent) in jobs for which the individual is just incapable of as outlined in The Peter Principle.

                What is the Peter principle? definition and meaning
                http://www.businessdictionary.com/definition/Peter-principle.html
                Definition of Peter principle: Observation that in an hierarchy people tend to rise to their level of incompetence.
                Thus, as people are promoted, they become … ???????

                Perhaps a clip from Black Books about Bernard acting up and Manny backing him up and keeping things going.is an appropriate analogy.
                (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aaeeCV8eRr4
                edited

          • RedLogix 6.1.1.1.2

            There was not a single example of local councils being consolidated and merged in such a way, of relative complexity, disparity and scale

            In that case how did anyone get away with suggesting it could be done? Really?

            I guess I have to be grateful that my budgets are an order of magnitude smaller than the IT Dept’s. That way I tend not to attract too much unwelcome attention from consultants and their like.

            Now I come to think of it, the last time a consultant got into the loop on a project I was involved with, he caused a whole bunch of report writing, time consuming conference calls, stress and worry … and absolutely no positive material impact on the outcome whatsoever.

            • One Two 6.1.1.1.2.1

              In that case how did anyone get away with suggesting it could be done? Really?

              Because they knew nothing could or would stop them

              Deloitte and EY knew it couldn’t be done, and had no reference architecture or relative experience to draw from

              Corruption and hubris. People should be going to prison for what has gone on. Inside AC. Fraud, curruption, fear and bullying is what runs the entire organisation

              The finance department should have had its files raided and audited years back. CFO Andrew McKenzie resigned in mid 2014. The CFO was the head of council IT as there was no CIO. Only a HoIT which was Mike Foley

              The finance team were awarded international awards for “innovative borrowing” by the very institutions which were funding the fraudulant activity being performed inside the IT department

              • Nic the NZer

                It seems plausible at least that Deloites simply had limited experience with such projects. In this case (as seems common with managers without the experience running into IT) they might have massively underestimated the complexity and cost. Deloites have no doubt integrated businesses of a similar scale before.

                In that case they would say, sure we can do it to your budget while a compitent IT company would have to say well your going to have to use a different (less optimistic) approach and its going to cost you an arm and a leg. Guess which company gets the contract?

              • Anon

                With IT projects there is only so much an actual vendor can do: they can do the actual doing or building of the IT systems, but without guidance or clarity around actual outputs/outcomes/goals of the intended system, they are very limited in what they can do. I hate to use the analogy because it is hackneyed, but think of building an IT system in the same way that you would build a skyscraper – You would never approach a builder and just say “this is a picture of what we want, get it done.” You need a good, capable architectural firm, engineers etc etc. The same applies for this type of massive IT project – there needs to be a lot of thought and planning put into every part of the system.

                Also, I wouldn’t say that the IT companies were at fault here. In terms of cost blow out – Deloitte and E&Y (if they had done their jobs properly) should have seen from the very beginning that this was an extremely complicated job, and made cost adjustments as such…

            • Nic the NZer 6.1.1.1.2.2

              Interesting perspective. I would have put the repeatability of industrial automation down to its physical nature. I guess you can either do something or not and this is basically known up front so then the costs can be worked out.

              On the other hand with software its often not so well defined what can be done. This makes it easy for the result to be shifted mid work stream.

              I separate the problem with consultants from this. Consultants incentive is to create a project which is 1) aligned to their way of working.
              2) has them involved for as much and long as possible.

              If you want the best outcome then i think in house development is better (but can mean inexperienced team).
              Sounds like you found one whose primary skill was writing reports about risks.

    • Sacha 6.2

      “the process must have been designed to fail from the outset.”

      It succeeded in keeping up the revenues and careers of key people and companies.

    • Draco T Bastard 6.3

      What entirely baffles me is exactly how the IT industry gets away with these massive failures. How did $1b get spent without delivering the desired result?

      Doesn’t seem to be IT that’s the problem but the bureaucracy. they didn’t know what they were doing and ignored the people who did while paying themselves huge amounts.

      • TC 6.3.1

        +1000

        As redlogix points out, IT is not the issue as many complex and expensive projects run to schedule and budget.

        Its plonkers and egomaniacs like folley, hide and troughers such as EY, Delloites etc utilising a blame shifting MO with committes and reports from your trougher mates.

        Supercity was not all that difficult, happens all the time with large acquisitions except professionals get left alone to do those not rorters and looters like nact.

  7. Ad 7

    Great to see a fresh writer.

    I’d suggest some different fixes.

    – A maximum ratio of salary difference between the lowest-paid and highest-paid staff. Including the CEO.

    – Open source the development of software.

    – Require publication of Council votes by Councillor, “live” on line with the meeting.

    – Centralise rates IT and property to the IRD. Speculators would melt, as in China.

    – Abolish the concept of Auckland Council ‘Chief Executive’, and re-empower the politicians. Worked fine before 1989.

    • RedLogix 7.1

      Local Councils have a much larger direct impact on most people’s everyday life than we imagine. Their core functions deliver so many civilising services and facilities we usually take absolutely for granted … until they aren’t there.

      Like when we visit third world countries who lack effective local govt, and we’re shocked at the filth, chaos, poverty, corruption and stench that fills our noses.

      Yet most of us, oblivious to how the Council shapes and protects the built environment we live in, show little interest much past bitching about the rates.

      • Draco T Bastard 7.1.1

        +1

        People bitching about rates and taxes really piss me off. They expect all the services that government provides but are unwilling to pay for it. The end result of this bloody greed is that things actually cost more as the RWNJs come along with promises of cutting taxes and implement privatisation and user pays.

  8. Nukefacts 8

    Great post, thx savenz. this cronyism, which is getting worse under National, has to stop. What a joke that they’ve been sitting on this disaster and not telling councillors or the public. Council has to be more accountable!

    • TC 8.1

      supercity was designed for council to take the blame with nact controlled cco’s holding the assets and the real power.

      The skirmishes on the right over a mayoral candidate is because nact dont really care who the mayor is as they neutered the role in creating supercity.

  9. vto 9

    This sort of IT is completely overblown in terms of its useability. A giant con.

    Try using printed paper and telephones instead. It’s faster, easier to read and feel better. Like cash over eftpos.

    By way of example – today, in an 8 hour day, 4 hours is spent working and 4 hours communicating. In the not too recent past in an 8 hour day, 7 hours was spent working and 1 hour communicating…

    I know of some in our sector who refuse email communication, and I am considering the same. All this “technology” does is clog the day.

    Like blogs

    talk talk talk, text text text email email email blah blah blah, try just doing some frikkin’ work….. useless

  10. Andy 10

    I enjoyed this well-written article. It is clear the author has a good understanding of the Runaway Project risk management phenomenon, and some insights as to what occurred with this particularly spectacular blow-out.

    I’m in the process of writing a White Paper on the Runaway Project phenomenon, and wonder if the author would be amenable to an offline discussion?

  11. Pablo 11

    All these comments show is that none of you have any understanding of IT at this scale.

    Yep it appears they’ve made a mess of it, as any organisation that seems to attempt any project or project phase over $2 mill often does.

    However all of your comments about how things should be done or the pros and cons of systems and vendors are utterly, utterly lacking in knowledge. Really lovin the guys wanting to go open source, back to paper or to Tech One.

    Please find out some more info from certifiable sources and get some analysis from CIO’s (that have proven records) else you’re just creating a retarded lynch mob.

    • Sacha 11.1

      Some of us have worked on large projects, thanks. Some for council organisations, even.

      I’m told by an ex-staffer that TechOne was on the table for AT before Mr Ford directed that they also use SAP. They complied but weren’t stupid enough to start from scratch or to let consultants drive the project, so their implementation was (relatively) cheap and effective.

      • Pablo 11.1.1

        I’m sure your large project was just amazing…

        I’m sure T1 was on the table. They;re pushign to be an All of Govt solution and they have a module for everythign. But those moduels are clunky as hell and it can’t actually handle the scale of the ACC or the volume of transactional shyte necessary.

        I’ve done T1 implementations and overseen it running in large (for NZ) orgs before. It’s was never a realistic option beyond core financial use for ACC. Whilst I can’t stand SAP, its at least in the right space for the likely requirements.

    • One Two 11.2

      I suspect you have no idea what you’re talking about and are projecting

  12. Tiger Mountain 12

    there are less ‘professional’ people that actually know what they are doing than many of us would like to think, happily engineers and some scientists do get things right–e.g. bridges that don’t collapse–but trust no one in an IT project is a good baseline

    an Oxford study of 1400 major IT projects US and elsewhere, discovered one in six had cost over runs of 200% and reinforced IT truisms such as “adding more programmers actually just extends delivery time”

    great article above, the premise sounds most plausible–the supercity was set up to fail in a number of ways and be sealed off from meaningful ratepayer and citizen oversight

    • Draco T Bastard 12.1

      great article above, the premise sounds most plausible–the supercity was set up to fail in a number of ways and be sealed off from meaningful ratepayer and citizen oversight

      The supercity was, apparently, set up to be rorted by National’s rich mates.

  13. Sacha 13

    Russell Brown has referenced this post and added some useful history: http://publicaddress.net/hardnews/the-unstable-supercity/

    • saveNZ 13.1

      Thanks Sacha – I particularly think this is relevant in terms of cronyism….

      “The ATA did not conduct a public tender. Instead, as acting local government minister John Carter confirmed later that year in response to a question from Labour’s Phil Twyford, the contract was awarded to a group of four companies led by SAP after a “discussion”. The minister said he had “every faith that the Auckland Transition Agency, and particularly the new council, will deliver a grand service for the people of Auckland.”

      In a commentary accompanying his report, O’Neill noted the opacity of the ATA’s way of working and the difficulty in getting officicial information. He wrote:

      There are signs building of a serious backlash against the way the Auckland Supercity is being implemented. Whether it’s the way executives are being recruited or the way the Council-controlled organisations are being reorganised, it looks increasingly as if the entire effort is being driven out of Wellington — and that’s making Aucklanders uncomfortable.”

      He concluded that hope that Aucklanders would have to hope their shiny new council “is not hamstrung by decisions now being made by unelected officials.”

      http://publicaddress.net/hardnews/the-unstable-supercity/

  14. An interesting debate about saveNZ’s article on twitter:

  15. Instauration 15

    The real issue here is that IT solutions can be delivered cheaply and effectively if the traditional models of preception, creation, delivery and control of delivery are abandoned.
    AT was small enough to run with this disruptive model – their success and the ATEED “me too” plea proves that it is scalable. From “cheap as chips” disruptive storage – to open source and stack – to more is better than best.
    DaaS shines in this form.

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11465186

    • Pablo 15.1

      The article doesn’t mention any of the things you’ve just listed at all. Do you have more you’d like to share to back up your statements.

      What “disruptive storage” is used at AT and in what context is open source used there?

      What new models of architecture, design and delivery do you see as fit replacements for the more “traditional” models?

  16. ropata 16

    The failure of IT projects is invariably due to crap management

    Hamilton wanted to add error-checking code to the Apollo system that would prevent this [P01 error] from messing up the systems. But that seemed excessive to her higher-ups. “Everyone said, ‘That would never happen,’” Hamilton remembers.

    But it did. Right around Christmas 1968—five days into the historic Apollo 8 flight, which brought astronauts to the moon for the first-ever manned orbit—the astronaut Jim Lovell inadvertently selected P01 during flight. Hamilton was in the second-floor conference room at the Instrumentation Laboratory when the call came in from Houston. Launching the P01 program had wiped out all the navigation data Lovell had been collecting. That was a problem. Without that data, the Apollo computer wouldn’t be able to figure out how to get the astronauts home.
    http://www.wired.com/2015/10/margaret-hamilton-nasa-apollo/

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