In their August 2014 article at Thirty-Fifth International Conference on Information Systems in Auckland, “The Largest Admitted IT Project Failure in the Southern Hemisphere: A Teaching Case”, authors Rebekah Eden and Darshana Sedera presented the failures faced by the Queensland health services in Australia along with it they referred to the possible issues that caused the dereliction of the project. Authors’ article not only focuses on the IT factors that led to the prodigious failure but it also points to the political impact on the project.

The Queensland health services – employer to approximately 85,000 people decided to migrate from LATTICE to SAP-based system for their payroll management. At the bidding of the tender, the government favoured IBM as a prime contractor under the political influence keeping CorpTech as a secondary contractor. As referred in “the Australian business review” by Krishnan Sharma, there was leaking of a competitive bid and alleged modification of scoring during the final selection process, also some sources Witnessed that Accenture was the front-runner until Burns urged the panel to re-evaluate the submissions. The project was commenced in 2008 where Queensland health services were responsible for all the information gathering and documentation of business requirements on top of that IBM used “work brain” rostering system to process and transport timesheets into SAP which ultimately resulted in a lag in the system at later stage. The first go live was decided to be held in August 2008 but IBM decided to come up with more planning to release the final solution in early 2010, but this in turn resulted in over budgeting and approximately over 18 months of the scheduled release date.

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While testing for the solution in July 2009 in UAT environment it showed $1.2 million AUD discrepancy in the payroll and in February 2010 it got reduced to $30,000 AUD but in this casuals and overtime claims were not tested. As per “Thite, M., & Sandhu, K in Australasian Journal of Information Systems” Corp Tech approved over 47 change requests from IBM which “were mainly due to the business requirements not being clearly articulated and agreed to at the outset of the project” which resulted in the continuous failure of the user acceptance testing criteria.

No testing was done in terms of keeping all possible scenarios of failure, which Queensland health ultimately accepted the risk and pitched in for going live in March 2010, which in resultant was a havoc decision led to major failure of the system. This failure impacted the health system as the employees were on industrial strike action and a number of employees ultimately resigned. As a result, the total cost of the Queensland Health implementation project as well as stabilization and maintenance efforts were estimated to be $1.25 Billion AUD by KPMG in 2012.

The major reason of the failure was the poor communication between consultants, vendors and client. They were not clear about their roles and responsibilities. The failure might have been a success if all the possible scenarios were being tested in UAT before going live. Prototype of the system might be of help before actually implementing it on the large scale.

Thite, M., ; Sandhu, K. (2014). Where is My Pay? Critical Success Factors of a Payroll System–A System Life Cycle Approach. Australasian Journal of Information Systems, 18(2).

https://www.theaustralian.com.au/business/business-spectator/learning-from-the-qld-health-payroll-fiasco-/news-story/174743f09e91d9550521b04d45d43ac3

https://www.couriermail.com.au/news/queensland/queensland-health8217s-12-billion-payroll-debacle-described-as-8216great-failure-in-public-administration8217-but-premier-vows-8216action8217/news-story/a3a47242d6215029c8aee536b1534440