September 19, 2013Doug Hadden
Doug Hadden, VP Products
Is there any relief from Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) failures in government? Many government leaders seem to think that implementation success will come if ERP is implemented in a different way – or in a bigger way – because ERP customization isn't complicated enough for government departments, it can all be simplified by implementing government wide shared services.
Persisting in implementing ERP systems, designed as you know for the private sector, and expecting different results is the very definition of IT insanity. We do keep up a registry of ERP government insanity as a public service. That might come across as sarcastic or smug because software designed for government – Government Resource Planning (GRP) – from companies like FreeBalance have much better success rates. Frankly, it is no triumph to see public money gone to waste. I'd much prefer that the major ERP vendors change software and processes to reduce their failure rates. They could take a small portion of their marketing budget. (It seems like they'd rather overwhelm us with noise to drown out the evidence.)
Recent IT Government Disasters
Henry Mance, writing in the Financial Times about the failure of large IT projects observes that there are other ways for US Air Force's to waste $1.1 Billion for an unusable ERP: they "could have poured tomato ketchup into 250m gallons of jet fuel or bought a sizeable stake in Bear Stearns." Four of the five examples of IT failure come from government. It's down heartening.
- State of Texas ERP "exceeded the original budget of $18,029,645 for the original scope by $11,359,722." – 63% (although a much smaller project was delivered on time and under budget)
- State of Massachusetts custom developed software "arrived years late, millions of dollars over budget, and riddled with technical problem"
- Government of Australia launching an investigation in high ERP costs where the two leading Tier 1 vendors are implicated