Information has many implications for the public health
Information Technology has played a major part in increasing the productivity and effectiveness of business companies, nonprofit and governmental organization during the last century. It’s self-evident to see that the increase of business demanding for software usage has increased the importance of software development interchangeably. While building a sophisticated and huge software is now possible due to the revolutionary technical resources, there is still a trade-off that comes with this kind of development. The explosion of software complexity caused to escalate software failures dramatically. Unfortunately, there are numerous examples of software projects failures which have cost the IT industry billions of dollars, not to mention the time and the effort that has been completely wasted. This tragedy might happen because of different factors. However, following software engineering principles and applying the right methods for software development could make software failures, for the most part, predictable and avoidable. This report will explore a case study of a project failure by describing the project background, the development procedures that were followed, the evolution of problems including time and cost issues, and finally analyzing the reasons behind this failure and how could have been avoided.Background InformationBefore jumping into the case study details, it is good to know some information related to the project owner. Sydney Water Co, which owned by the Government of New South Wales, is the biggest water services provider in Australia. This corporation aims to recycle and filter wastewater in order to provide drinkable water. Sydney Water operates on a large scale and has many implications for the public health as well as the environment. Therefore, there were many IT projects that have been implemented in this corporation. The largest project was called Customer Information and Billing System abbreviated as CIBS. The objectives of this project were to enhance customers service, fulfil the business efficiency by improving the existing information systems, and integrating 12 internal business systems with 60 external interfaces. CIBS launched in March 2000 after the contract was won by PwC (PriceWaterhouseCoopers).Problems EvolutionAfter discovering the background of this project and who was responsible for its development, let’s dive into its details and discover how it ended up being a disastrous project. Basically, CIBS project was divided into three discrete projects as following: the first release (R1) which was a tool that provides services for major customers, the second release (R2) which afford an electronic interaction with commercial and land developers and, finally, the third release (R3) which was the fundamental core of this project that brings the customer information and billing engine. The R1 and R2 components were implemented, although R2 did not obtain its all functionality. Initially, the problems have started from the PwC side because the development team was inexperienced in system integration so they worked in a low esteem. Actually, they didn’t only underestimate the project complexity, but also they didn’t have enough qualified human resources in order to cover up the shortfall that has happened. In addition to that, After PwC got the approval to launch this project, they discovered that the CIBS computers architecture was not compatible with the supposed integrated system. All these issues together have contributed to increasing the implementation cost which led to going over the budget as shown in figure 2. Moreover, the lack of accountability and involvement among the employees has produced delayed communication and thus delayed commitment. On the other side, the inadequate plans and specifications that’s been followed have caused tremendous requests for requirements changing. Therefore, milestones have been rescheduled multiple times and the overdue in the project timeline was unpreventable (see table 1, figure 3). Over the time, the project’s problems have escalated gradually. The finance department, as well as the risk management, have failed to present substantial reports that could avoid the project drawbacks at early stages. Originally, CIBS project was expected to be on the operational level by February 2002, at a cost of 38 million dollars. However, the budget had increased to 60 million before it was completely terminated by Sydney Water in October 2002. At the end, the project has failed to match user-acceptance and integration testing standards which led Sydney Water in its turn to file a suit against PwC over CIBS debacle in 2003.Failure Reasons and Solutions The fact to be mentioned, this failure would not have occurred if and only if some software engineering principles have been applied successfully. In fact, following Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC) procedures and applying its phases would have prevented this project’s failure. In this paragraph, each SDLC phase will be examined and the CIBS case study will be evaluated based on it. In the planning phase, full feasibility study including economic, organizational, technical, resource, and schedule must be done. this step would give a deep understanding of the hardware infrastructure, system complexity, and any other constraints that may occur during the project design. If this phase had applied properly, PwC would have considered all the possible issues that might face before starting the project so that they could acquire compatible hardware and request higher budget. Moving on to the analysis phase, gathering information, defining system requirements, and building prototypes for it are mandatory steps. Sydney Water would know whether the system can meet their requirement. However, PwC has admitted their inadequate progress plus the insufficient time that has been spent on these steps. During the design phase, PCW should have built a prototype to identify system details so that Sydney Water could check if the proposed system matched the requirements or there are new requirements need to be added. Reaching out to the implementation phase, testing the system and validating the user’s specification are essential operations. PwC should have assigned specialized testing team who are unfamiliar with the system code. If regular reports had been submitted to the project manager, Sydney Water would have spotted any potential improvement that could be utilized during that period.ConclusionAs was previously stated, this report has explored an important case study for a huge software project failure. these kinds of projects could be a defeat when the rework exceeds the value-added work that’s been budgeted for. While there were various reasons behind aborting this project, the major reason was the inappropriate planning and specifications, which in turn led to plentiful change requests and significant added costs and delays. However, most of those reasons, including this one, could have been avoided. Under the spotlight of all what it was discussed before, applying software engineering methods in an organized manner can contribute effectively to reducing software development disasters. By following (SDLC) principles especially testing and validation phase, IT industry could be able to rescue millions of dollars from being wasted.