Buyers get guidance on buying major IT deals

12 January 2009

12 January 2009 | Paul Snell

The OGC has launched two sets of guidance to improve the procurement of large government IT projects.

Advice has been published on both assessing the status of a project's procurement before it begins, and how to ensure there is a common understanding of an IT project's objectives between all involved.

The government has faced strong criticism for its poor implementation and management of IT projects, including the new IT system for magistrates' courts and the delayed £12 billion NHS IT programme (Web news, 23 May 2008).

The pre-qualification tool (PQT) is a self-assessment document, which requires buyers to examine if four areas - the procurement, the department, the suppliers and the leadership of the project - are ready to proceed. If these criteria are not met, it is unlikely the purchasing process will deliver what is required or wanted.

In addition to the PQT, the OGC has also published guidance on developing a Joint Statement of Intent (JSI). A JSI should set out what a project should achieve, how teams will work together and highlight any potential changes that may crop up in the future. The JSI should be given to suppliers after they have been short-listed.

OGC chief executive Nigel Smith said the advice would make sure buyers get projects right from the start and help mitigate risks.

The information has been developed collaboratively, with the PQT supported by the Department for Work and Pensions and the NHS, and the Ministry of Defence leading the JSI project.

The IT industry has also provided input into the guidance, and supported the information. John Higgins, director general of supplier trade association Intellect, said: "The challenge is to get these tools embedded into the processes of the suppliers and government departments."

SMjan2009

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