Large ICT and digital projects are hard to deliver. According to the Project Management Institute, low-maturity organisations will deliver to schedule only 39% of the time, and within budget only 46% of the time. Even high-maturity organisations don’t score more than 67%. 

So we introduced a strong investment model in 2017. We now make sure that all large ICT and digital projects are assessed under the ICT Assurance Framework.  

Since 2017, we’ve reviewed over 160 projects across all clusters. In that time, we’ve seen 74 of those projects completed, with a value of $3.6 billion. We’ve completed 199 reviews with nearly 2000 project recommendations issued and followed through to completion. Over this time, we’ve helped to implement some major changes in the way that projects are run. 

ICT and digital projects are now smaller and less risky 

From 2017, we’ve seen the average project size reduce by one third across the ICT and digital project portfolio in NSW. Average project costs have declined 55%, from $72 million in 2017 to $40 million in 2020.  

This reduction in project size and cost is a significant strategic achievement. It means that projects are inherently less risky – they tend to be delivered in smaller chunks making them more manageable and easier to monitor. 

The average project duration has also declined 17.5%, which limits the risk of technology becoming obsolete during the implementation of a project and reduces the time it takes to deliver value to customers.  

No significant cost blowouts since we started 

We’ve had a lot of success in addressing large project overruns. The recommendations and advice provided by our expert panel have served to shape investment more strategically and identify serious risks ahead of time. 

When we compare the projects that were transitioned into the ICT Assurance Framework in 2017 with the projects that started after, we can see that the typical cost overrun is 93% smaller. 

We are helping to achieve outcomes 

We take a collaborative approach when working with our partner agencies, which means we’ve been able to reduce project overruns while also supporting NSW Government agencies to deliver outcomes for citizens.  

Sponsor’s opinion of the IAF is positive 

Post engagement surveys show a steady improvement in project sponsor satisfaction and it has never dropped below 80%.  

The most significant value added was bringing their experience and colour of where other projects have experienced issues and providing insight on how to manage them.

We are helping to deliver outcomes for NSW 

Digital transformation is all about improving the lives of the people of NSW. Many of the initiatives delivered over the last few years have been key government priorities, such as NSW Digital Driver License and the NSW Planning Portal. The ICT Assurance Fund serves not only to safeguard project budgets, but also outcomes for citizens. 

Post engagement surveys indicate that 83% of sponsors believe assurance reviews helped to improve confidence around realising benefits. 

“The advice we received on benefits realisation influenced our thinking and helped us develop a robust set of measures for the program” - Major program sponsor, NSW Government 

What’s next? 

We’ve learned a lot over the last three years, so we’re making a few changes to the way that we do things. We want to make sure that we continue to be as effective as possible and give Clusters the support they need. We’ve built in assurance for agile delivery (rather than just waterfall) and going forward, we’re focusing on iterative delivery and funding models – helped by the Digital Restart Fund.  

When the $1.6 billion Digital Restart Fund was introduced last year, we became an integral part of its delivery. This includes key government priorities such as the $363 million Rural Access Gap, and the $240 million in Cyber security uplift spending.  

The Beyond Digital strategy provides us with a solid plan – instead of just looking at individual ICT and digital projects, we work with Clusters to develop a three year forward-look at all their ICT and digital spend. This helps us to understand, across the whole sector, how projects are meeting government strategy and prioritised to deliver outcomes for NSW.