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IT project turnaround

January 28, 2008 0 Comments

Not all large IT projects fail, and even those that are deeply troubled can be turned around:

Officials at HM Courts Service (HMCS) say they have turned around a failing £447m project to provide a national case management system for magistrates courts – a scheme that is 16 years late and will cost nearly three times more than expected.

HMCS change managers say they have been standardising business practices in courts and “not just delivering an IT system”, since they took direct control of the project in January 2007.

Officials have told Computer Weekly that independent Gateway reviews of the Libra project have progressed from a red warning light in 2006 to amber last March and last month to green.

Libra, which is in 83 courts, is due to be rolled out to all 370 magistrates courts in England and Wales by the end of December.

HM Courts Service has changed direction by attempting to shape new business processes around the specific needs of those who work in the courts, rather than imposing any central diktat.

Executives on the change management team say they are rolling out new IT and business practices based on what works best in the courts, and validating it in live operation.

Those last two paragraphs are the most intriguing, and they point out the critical nature of change management (from a process and organizational sense, not in the ‘source code control’ sense) in any large-scale IT project that will impact business processes. Be sure to read the entire article; it not only gives more details, it also has links to earlier articles about the same project.

About the Author:

Webster is Principal and Founder at at Bruce F. Webster & Associates, as well as an Adjunct Professor for the BYU Computer Science Department. He works with organizations to help them with troubled or failed information technology (IT) projects. He has also worked in several dozen legal cases as a consultant and as a testifying expert, both in the United States and Japan. He can be reached at 303.502.4141 or at

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