Tuesday, December 04, 2007

T-Card Project A Failure

T-Card is supposed to be the new integrated, electronic ticketing system to cover public transport on buses, trains and ferries. Last Month (Nov-07), the State Government gave notice of its intention to cancel the contract, unless the company (ERG) can demonstrate a working system within twenty days.

On 3 December 2007, ERG gave a statement to the Australian Stock Exchange, saying it was "well placed to implement the system on a wide scale by 2009". ERG claims to have implemented similar systems in Melbourne, Singapore, Rome and San Francisco. The question then is, "why invent a new system, when it already has successful existing systems?"

On 9 November the NSW Transport Minister, John Watkins, said "Enough is enough. ... This has been a very frustrating project." The system was supposed to be working before the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games.

What makes a successful project? In my opinion a successful project satisfies the following criteria:
  • the customer is satisfied. Clearly this is not the case, with the customer, the NSW Government preparing to stop the project.
  • the system works as intended. Again, this is clearly not the case.
  • the project is finished on time. 2007 is well past the expected completion in early 2000. The Auditor-General's office in its Report to Parliament 2006 Volume 5 p338 stated "We are not aware of any further remedy for delays. (in the T-Card project)"
  • the project is completed satisfactorily on budget. While NSW has spent $64 million, it has not made all the payments, becasue the contract included penalties for non-completion of milestones. Since it seems unlikely a working system won't be forthcoming for nealy another two years, and at unknown cost, there are good aruments for terminating the project.

Good Project Management requires that, at each stage of the project, a review is conducted to determine whether it is worthwhile continuing. It seems to me that ERG has been more interested in continuing the project, hoping to retrieve the golden egg of taxpayer money, even when technical and other difficulties seem to have indicated otherwise.

It would seem to be a project worthy of cancellation. In future the NSW Government, through the Dept of Commerce, should oversee projects, and insist on having representatives on the project oversight committee, and on project teams.