Energy Efficiency

Rob van der Hoeven (Holland) - What Companies Can Learn From the (Im)Possibilities of Dutch Government IT Projects

The Dutch government recently received a lot of criticism as a result of several failed IT projects. Every country, no doubt, has its government IT blunders, but in the Netherlands this was taken to the extreme, with large IT projects causing political crises and a lot of negative publicity for the government.

The failure of recent projects like a national Electronic Patient Record (EPR) system, biometric passports and automation within police forces demanded investigation. And indeed, the Dutch Scientific Council for Government Policy (WWR) wrote a report concluding that the government lacks a clear vision on IT.

The conclusion of the report 'iOverheid' (iGovernment) is that IT policy in the Netherlands mainly thinks in terms of technology and not in terms of the information flows that have assumed crucial importance in an environment of cross-linked networks and innumerable ICT initiatives. This makes Dutch IT policy too focused on the capabilities of the technology and the desire for more efficiency - which, in turn, is making IT very complex. The foundation of every IT project has become unbalanced.

One of the main recommendations given by the council in the conclusion of the report is to focus on strategy and scalability. These recommendations and conclusions remind me of what's happening in the private sector. We all know that the public sector struggles with disproportionally large projects, but the private sector also knows about the pitfalls.

In several companies we see frameworks being built on top of existing frameworks just to maximise the efficiency of processes. There seems to be a lack of business agility and projects that see an investment in the growth of the business or organisations, rather than always looking for ways to do more with less.

In other words, both the private and public sectors are solely focused on one aspect of the possibilities of IT: ‘What are the newest technologies and what makes us achieve results as soon as possible?' Wrong!

In both markets managers need to make a shift. Instead of looking at IT at an operational level, management should look at IT from a strategic perspective. They need to ask the big questions, such as, ‘How can IT be part of our overall growth strategy, and how can we include stakeholders like finance, HR and marketing in this?' Project management, where IT is used to support the success of the overall aims of the project, rather than being seen as an end in itself


By Rob van der Hoeven, area vice president, Citrix Benelux


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