The anatomy of IT projects

Mark Seneschall

Published by

Publish Nation





Reviewed by

Mike Rees MBCS CITP, IT Consultant


7 out of 10

This book is intended for ‘those with less previous exposure to IT projects, but who...find themselves confronted with the looming prospect of some form of engagement with such an undertaking’.  

The author it not an IT professional, but has mainstream management experience so there is little actual IT in the book. Indeed those ‘who are especially IT literate...are likely to be disappointed’.

The book looks at a number of historical engineering projects first, including the Bell Rock lighthouse and the Brooklyn Bridge, and then moves on to the fairly recent Heathrow T5 project.

However, the majority of the book concentrates on an example of an IT project to end all IT projects - the NHS’s National Programme for IT (NPfIT). The eventual cost of the project was estimated to have been between £10bn - £20bn and it was reckoned to be the largest civilian IT project in the world. The ramifications of the project are still reverberating round the NHS and are likely to do so for many years to come.

The review and the lessons learned from the NHS project make for a pretty rigorous analysis of the anatomy of a project and take up a third of the book. In addition, there are plenty of checklists and bullet points as part of the deconstruction of the NHS project.

So what did we learn - other than that this type and size project is high risk? One of the lessons to emerge is that ‘so much of what IT projects are about is not about the IT’. However, there is rarely one simple answer as to why projects fail, so I’m afraid that you will have to read the book to find out.

The book is written in a fairly easy-going style, with plenty of references and a detailed index. Whether you are an IT professional or not, if you need to study a big project or one such as the NHS project in particular, then this book represents good value for money.

Further information: Publish Nation

April 2014