ACC misstep offers lessons for IT control

Irregularities in the governance of ACC's wide area network development may serve to remind IT departments of the boundaries to their power.

Irregularities in the governance of ACC’s wide area network development may serve to remind IT departments of the boundaries to their power.

IT staff, used to replacing PCs, servers and network components as a matter of routine, sometimes fail to register when a development is so major as to be “mission-critical” to the business strategy. At that point the governance of the development alters and should be a matter for stricter discipline emanating from the business side of the business-IT collaboration, says ACC’s general manager of development, Murray Young (pictured).

A PricewaterhouseCoopers audit last December uncovered a failure to do this in the case of ACC’s WAN development.

“The report called the governance of the project into question,” says Young.

No formal steering committee was in place and the sign-off of crucial documents and the use of risk and issue registers had not been sufficiently formalised for a project with such potential major impact on the organisation’s operations, he says.

The WAN network replaces DDS-based links and will cover around 50 ACC sites, including its 33 branch offices, two major data centres and various other facilities such as contact centres. TelstraClear is prime contractor, with Datacraft involved on the network management side.

Responsibility was subsequently handed over to ACC's project office and an existing staff member appointed as manager for the project, at a higher salary, which added marginally to the cost. The new manager has now brought the missing documentation up to date and instituted appropriate procedures for future governance, says Young.

Begun last September, the project was evaluated as 70% complete at its most recent report, earlier this month. It should be completed “in the next month or so”, Young says.

Getting the documentation and procedures into shape has imposed a “minor” delay on the project. Total cost of the project is “in the millions but less than $5 million”, he says.

The organisation denied rumours that emerged earlier this month suggesting the irregularities had involved a senior member of ACC’s technical staff being dismissed or disciplined for having too close a relationship with a vendor.

Asked if anyone had been disciplined as a consequence of the misstep, Young says “certain issues were discussed with some members of staff”.

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