Sydney Water blows multiple IT project budgets

$47.2 million in the red and running years behind

The auditor-general, Peter Achterstraat, has flagged several IT project cost blowouts and delays at Sydney Water, including an overspend of $34.3 million on a customer management system.

In the auditor-general's report to parliament 2009 volume seven, which focuses on Environment, Climate Change and Water organisations, Achterstraat identified Sydney Water’s Customer Management System Stage 1 had overshot its original $21 million budget and was now forecast to cost $55.3 million.

The delivery date for the project, which aims to improve customer service, reduce reliance on multiple unsupportable systems and reduce operating costs, had slipped from August 2009 to February 2011.

The significant increase in budget, Achterstraat said, was due to the system integrator costs. Although Sydney Water sought quotes from prospective service providers, the Stage 1 project budget was found to be inadequate.

The change in service delivery date was due to extending the design phase to incorporate proof of concept and extensive review cycles, he said. Extended procurement phases for both content management system (CMS) software and system integrator services also contributed to the variation in schedule.

The organisation’s Maximo consolidation project — aimed at replacing Sydney Water’s current asset management systems — also had significant budgeted overspend. Originally set at $18.4 million, the revised budget had leapt to $31.3 million and its deliver date had fallen behind from August 2009 to October 2010.

“The Corporation underestimated the complexity of the Maximo consolidation project and this is the main reason for the $12.9 million increase in the project budget,” Achterstraat said. “The Corporation advises that the Maximo project is on track to the schedule and budget revised in 2008.”

Its Field Resource Management Stage 2, which is aimed developing a geospatial information system and mobile documents capability, kept its original budget of $7.9 million. Its original delivery date of July 2009, however, had been pushed back to November 2009.

Sydney Water’s Information Management Program — aimed at replacing several disparate document management systems and delivering new systems to better access and share information — was on track for retaining its original budget of $24 million and delivery date of June 2011.

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