Author's Opinion

The views in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of iTWire.

Have your say and comment below.

Friday, 07 September 2018 21:13

In IT, the pace of change is too fast

In IT, the pace of change is too fast Alphamu57 via

IT projects are becoming too big and too complex. We keep hearing of failed IT projects ranging in value from a few hundred thousand dollars to a few hundred million dollars (or more!).

Perhaps it's an extreme generalisation, but the reporting around most failures seems to suggest either the solution has taken far longer (and cost many more dollars) than expected OR upon delivery (or in testing) it was determined that it was not fit for purpose – either "wrong" or too limited.

Initial business requirements exhibit a relatively smooth view of the environment. Perhaps in defining the new system they will either say, "wrap up all these disparate systems we're currently using and make a cohesive whole that works faster and more efficiently", or they might say, "build me a system that looks a lot like my current software, but make it better and more flexible – allow for growth in both usage and features".

Both of these options lead to the same "wall of death": complexity. Worse, evolving complexity!

A comprehensive design of such a system will take a considerable amount of time, will involve a huge number of stakeholders and will almost invariably lead to fights, trade-offs, politicisation and turf-wars. And that's just during the requirements gathering phase!!

So, having spent some months designing this new system, the go-ahead is finally given by the appropriate competent authority (based on the value of the project) – that may be the project sponsor, or it may well require a full board-level approval. Either way, it is expected that go-ahead will only be given when the project budget and scope of works are costed with just a 10% margin of error.

Construction begins. Software is written, hardware is ordered and specific milestones are defined and (hopefully) achieved. Communications infrastructure is designed and tenders let for it's completion.

And then it all goes to the dogs.

The software designers/implementers complain that the design specifications are incomplete. Hardware that had been specified for the new system is found to be seriously under-performing. Perhaps only the communications infrastructure is remotely close to what was actually needed (perhaps not!). Initial testing by trial users exposes far more flaws than successes...

And now we see the issue. The pace of change has grown so much that specifications are obsolete before they can be implemented. Hard-earned software language abilities rapidly become "yesterday's skill" long before anyone is able to gain more than competence – mastery is a pipe-dream. COBOL, anyone?

We have reached a stage where the evolution of requirements, of competing products and of the ability to implement has become seriously compromised. The world of IT is evolving faster than the practitioners are able to keep up.

Which leaves us with the Faustian choice between the "uber-programmer" who can solve all our problems, and the recognition that we cannot continue to grow complexity and expect to maintain our sanity.

Uber is probably a myth.


26-27 February 2020 | Hilton Brisbane

Connecting the region’s leading data analytics professionals to drive and inspire your future strategy

Leading the data analytics division has never been easy, but now the challenge is on to remain ahead of the competition and reap the massive rewards as a strategic executive.

Do you want to leverage data governance as an enabler?Are you working at driving AI/ML implementation?

Want to stay abreast of data privacy and AI ethics requirements? Are you working hard to push predictive analytics to the limits?

With so much to keep on top of in such a rapidly changing technology space, collaboration is key to success. You don't need to struggle alone, network and share your struggles as well as your tips for success at CDAO Brisbane.

Discover how your peers have tackled the very same issues you face daily. Network with over 140 of your peers and hear from the leading professionals in your industry. Leverage this community of data and analytics enthusiasts to advance your strategy to the next level.

Download the Agenda to find out more


David Heath

David Heath has had a long and varied career in the IT industry having worked as a Pre-sales Network Engineer (remember Novell NetWare?), General Manager of IT&T for the TV Shopping Network, as a Technical manager in the Biometrics industry, and as a Technical Trainer and Instructional Designer in the industrial control sector. In all aspects, security has been a driving focus. Throughout his career, David has sought to inform and educate people and has done that through his writings and in more formal educational environments.



Recent Comments