Quick …

Name a successful public sector IT-led project, completed over the last 20 years, that the public will have heard of.

This was prompted by the tweet below, from Dan Hon. I narrowed the time frame a little from “any ever” to “20 years.”

My contribution was Oyster Cards – a mix of technology and physical infrastructure that is a roaring success. Others suggested congestion charging, Human Genome, healthcare.gov (the second iteration), job centre plus and the UK’s online car tax.

All successful now, but anyone anywhere near any of them will know just how difficult and how near disaster some of these projects were at various times in their life.

No project of consequence sails smoothly from the top left of the project plan to the bottom right. The trick is anticipating as many of the things that will go wrong as possible, and having a plan to deal with them. And then having a team around you who can deal with all of the things that you didn’t think of – and are capable enough to run around, hair on fire, to solve the emergencies, whilst still keeping the whole thing roughly on plan.

The list of such projects isn’t long though. Have we forgotten the other successful ones? Do our brains – or my brain particularly perhaps – think about the ones that have gone catastrophically wrong and forget the ones that didn’t grab headlines?

Now, what if the question I asked was … Quick … name a successful digital transformation project in the last decade that everyone would know about.

I’ll start you off. Netflix.

I’ll wait.

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