I just read an article in the newspaper (NRC, in Dutch) regarding the failure of a program of the Dutch Tax office. It started as a 60M Euro initiative in 2005 and was preliminary closed in 2014 after spending more than 200M euro and only delivered 3,5% of the original scope.
Within Hedeman Consulting we created a Project Success Scan to assess projects and organizations and come up with improvement suggestions. The Project Success Scan was developed based on many years of experience within Hedeman Consulting and its affiliates. Also included are the results of several publications in this field such as Success and failure factors of McKinsey and the Chaos report by the Standish Group. The results of recent publications on the failure of public projects have been included too.
The Project Success Scan is divided into four plateaus chosen to distinguish different areas of responsibilities. All four platforms have to be filled to some extent to give a project a good chance of success. Is a plateau completed insufficiently, this has to be compensated within another plateau.
Plateau 1 and 2 relate to an individual project. Plateau 3 covers the projects organization as a whole. Plateau 4 relates to the business organization including their support services. The successive plateaus support each other. Platform 1 is based on platform 2, platform 2 is based on platform 3 and platform 3 is based on platform 4. Plateau 1 is the easiest and plateau 4 the hardest to adjust. Failure factors on the plateaus 3 and 4 can if possible be compensated by strong success factors on the plateaus 1 and 2. An advantage of the classification of four plateaus is that it’s easier to defined at which levels interventions can be implemented and who is responsible for those interventions.
I used the information from the article and filled in the simple Project Success Quick Scan (PSQS).
The PSQS has 15 questions and I found answers for at least 12 of the questions. Based on these answers the model shows that it’s obvious that this initiative could never be a success. For the questions I couldn’t find answers I used a score of 2.
In the attached spider diagram you get the results, where you see that for most of the questions there is a score of 1.
A couple of weeks later I came across another article in the same newspaper. Now about the situation in the Dutch ministry of Defense. A project Speer which costed 5 times more (almost 1 billion) and only delivered 30% of the objectives. A lot of corrosive energy, communication problems, unclear strategy, continuous business justification? The usage of the project success scan could have shown much earlier that this wouldn’t be a success.