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ICT Failure

ICT Failure

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ICT Failure
ICT Failure

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 ISSN 1479-439X
175
©Academic Conferences LtdReference this paper as:Gichoya D (2005) “Factors Affecting the Successful Implementation of ICT Projects in Government”
The ElectronicJournal of e-Government
Volume 3 Issue 4, pp 175-184, available online at www.ejeg.com
Factors Affecting the Successful Implementation of ICTProjects in Government
David Gichoya,Research School of Informatics, Loughborough University, UK
  Abstract:
A government is a huge and complex organisation, whose operations and strategic focus could be greatlyenhanced by the well focussed application of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) to supportimprovements in productivity, management effectiveness and ultimately, the quality of services offered to citizens. Whilethe benefits of ICT in government cannot be disputed, there are several concerns about its success as well as thestrategies to be adopted in implementation of systems in various countries. In this paper, the characteristic challengesthat developing nations face, which make ICT implementation in government fail to succeed are identified andsynthesised. The paper presents results of literature review of case studies from both developed and developingcountries and preliminary studies grounded in the Kenya e-Government reality. The key factors are identified,synthesised and categorised under common broad categories. This results in a rich picture of ICT implementationexperience that helps to identify possible solutions. A descriptive framework for categorising key factors in ICTimplementation in government illustrated with references to the literature is proposed. The input variables arecategorised into factors for success (drivers and enablers), and factors for failure (barriers and inhibitors). The outputvariables are categorized into organisational and technological benefits. Finally, an action for success is proposed. Thisaction includes suggestions for increasing the impact of factors for success while reducing the impact of factors for failureand use of available good practice.
Keywords:
Government informatics, ICT projects implementation, e-Government, information system, ICT success andfailure
1. Background
With the emergence of information andcommunication technologies (ICTs), and e-Government, it is possible to improve efficiencyand effectiveness of internal administration withingovernment and to re-locate government servicefrom government offices to locations closer to thecitizens. Examples of such locations are cyber café’, telecenters or a personal computer at homeor office. While the benefits of ICT in governmentcannot be disputed, there are several concernsabout its success as well as the strategies to beadopted in implementation of systems in variouscountries. This paper therefore presents thefindings of a literature review, knowledge acquiredfrom reviewed case studies from developingcountries and a preliminary study grounded onKenyan government. The paper considers thecharacteristic challenges that developing nationsface, which make ICT implementation ingovernment fail to succeed. A descriptiveframework for categorising key factors in ICTimplementation in government and an action for success are proposed. The action for success ispresented as response to situation specificchallenges.
Informatics
is a bridging discipline that isfundamentally interested in the application of information, information technology andinformation systems within organisations.Informatics is therefore the study of information,information systems and information technologyapplied to various phenomena (Beynon-Davies2002). Following this definition of informatics,government informatics can be defined as the
application of information, information systemsand information technology within government
.This therefore includes application of e-Government which is “primarily to do with makingthe delivery of government services moreefficient” (Bannister, Remenyi 2005).In support of government informatics, Tapscott(1995, p.xv) argues that ICT causes a “paradigmshift” introducing “the age of network intelligence”,reinventing businesses, governments andindividuals. Ndou (2004, p.2) quoting Kaufman(1977) observes, “the traditional bureaucraticparadigm, characterised by internal productiveefficiency, functional rationality,departmentalisation, hierarchical control and rule-based management is being replaced bycompetitive, knowledge based requirements, suchas: flexibility, network organisation,vertical/horizontal integration, innovativeentrepreneurship, organisational learning, speedup in service delivery, and a customer drivenstrategy, which emphasise coordinated networkbuilding, external collaboration and customer services” all of which are supported by ICT.
1.1 e-Governments initiatives
 According to Kaul and Odedra (1991)governments around the world have beenengaged in the process of implementing a wide
 
Electronic Journal of e-Government Volume 3 Issue 4 2005 (175-184)
range of (ICT) applications. Countries have beenclassified by the United Nations according to their Computer Industry Development Potential (CIPD)as advanced or less developed Mgaya (1999). Advanced include, for example, the United States,Canada, West European countries and Japan;less developed include for example Argentina,Brazil, India, Mexico, Kenya and Bulgaria. For allcountries, use of ICTs for government reinventionis increasing not only in investment but also interms of visibility with a number of high-profileinitiatives having been launched during the 1990s. According to Heeks and Davies (2000), thisreinvention has taken place especially in theadvanced countries. Western countries areconvinced that the information society will result ineconomic and social benefits (Audenhove 2000).The author quoting Organisation for EconomicCooperation and Development, notes thatinformation infrastructures are expected tostimulate economic growth, increase productivity,create jobs, and improve on the quality of life.Heeks (2002) observes that there is a bigdifference between ICT implementation and usebetween developed and developing countries.However, Westrup (2002) observes thatsimilarities can also be expected. Thesesimilarities include funds which are never sufficient, bureaucracy and user needs. Thedifference is how problems are addressed indifferent countries. It can be argued that, with their adequate resources and advanced technology,the Western countries have an easier way of implementing ICT projects than DCs. Mostdeveloping countries are characterised by limitedcomputer applications in the public sector,inadequate infrastructure and shortage of skilledmanpower (Odedra 1993). Odedra (1993, p.9)notes that “this situation exists not merely due tolack of financial resources, but largely due to lackof coordination at different levels in makingeffective use of the technology”. Thisuncoordinated efforts can only result in duplicationif each department implements its own ICTprojects without due regard to compatibility withinthe government.
2. ICT Implementation in Governmentof Kenya
Over the last five years, the Kenyan governmenthas initiated some capital investment towards setup and installation of ICT infrastructure. Fundingfor these investments is achieved throughpartnerships between the government anddevelopment partners. The foreign fundingcomponent constitutes the largest percentage of this investment in terms of technology. Thegovernment contribution is usually in the form of technical and support staff and facilities includingbuildings.So far, the Government Information TechnologyInvestment and Management Framework isconnecting all ministries to the Internet under theExecutive Network (Limo 2003). The governmentis also connecting the ministries to run integratedinformation systems for example the IntegratedFinancial Management Information System(IFMIS) and the Integrated Personnel andPensions Database (IPPD).While developing countries may have similar characteristics, the Kenyan context presentsvarious challenges that affect the successfulimplementation of ICT projects.Characteristics that define Kenyan ICTenvironment:
Most ICT projects are initially donor funded.
Some donations are made without prior consultation or carrying out a needsanalysis by the recipient organization
Operational/running costs are met by thegovernment. Funding (capital and humanresource requirements) ends with theproject phase.
The budgets for ICT are inadequate butrising.
A lack of ICT policies and master plans toguide investment. To the extent that, witha number donors funding ICT, there havebeen multiple investments for the sameproduct due to lack of coordination.
A focus on ICT applications that supporttraditional administrative and functionaltransactions rather than on effectiveinformation processing and distributionwithin and without governmentdepartments;
Unstable ICT resources.This paper therefore helps to answer the followingquestions:1. What critical factors or variables can beidentified as important in terms of their effect on ICT project implementation ingovernment?2. Are there common variables and can thevariables be synthesised and categorisedunder common broad categories for specific action to be taken?3. Does the resulting analysis of the datalead to a framework that enables analysisand understanding of the ICTimplementation experience in Kenya andcan it help to identify problems andsolutions?4. Does this in turn result in a frameworkthat can be used to guide ICT
www.ejeg.com©Academic Conferences Ltd
176
 
David Gichoya
implementation in Kenya and other developing countries?5. Does the resulting framework build onprevious frameworks either in terms of itsapplicability to real life situations, itsinclusive nature, its cohesiveness, and itsability to generate questions for further research?The research strategy envisaged is close to oneused by Doherty, King et al. (1998), since theobjectives are partly confirmatory but primarilyexploratory. The strategy involves use of in-depthinterviews, observation and documentary review.This approach provides new insights, grounded inthe Kenya e-Government reality, into factors thatcontribute to the success or failure of ICT projects.It also shows the relationship between theadoption of good practice during implementationand the resultant level of success attributed to theoperational systems. The methodology envisagedtherefore has two dimensions, one theoreticallybased on ICT literature; and the other analyticallybased on case studies. This paper thereforeincludes knowledge acquired from a literaturereview and a preliminary investigation grounded inKenya.Figure 1 presents a research frameworkconstructed from these preliminary studies. Theframework specifies the area of research interestand shows how ICT implementation successaffects ICT facilities quality and informationsystem quality. In turn ICT facilities quality andinformation systems quality affect the perceivedbenefits. An ICT project implementation can onlybe perceived to have succeeded if the perceivedbenefits are realised. ICT facilities quality can beassessed after careful evaluation of theinfrastructure to determine technical functionality.For example if the facilities were for networkingdifferent departments, the question may bewhether this has been achieved successfully. Thiswill involve a technical and user evaluation of thefunctional communication systems. Informationsystem quality can only be determined byevaluating the information they generate. For example if the information is for budgetingpurposes, the question might be whether theinformation system can generate accurate andtimely financial information.Perceived benefits are the end products that canbe used to judge the success of the wholesystem. If the perceived benefits like easier communication, networking, and systemintegration, timely, relevant, complete and usefulinformation are not realised, then the system willbe perceived to have failed. Attributes of eachcomponent are shown for clarity andfocus.Planning and Implementationof ICTprojects A familiar maxim says, ‘if you cannot plan it, youdo not do it’. Another maxim says, ‘I never planned to fail, I just failed to plan’. Planningspans a whole project period. It begins once theproject planning activities determine theorganization’s strategy and identifies the ICTprojects. Within the framework of a few fixedconstraints, project plans evolve with the lifecycle.The constraints are time and money so eachproject has a clear deadline and a tight budget. According to Moran (1998, p.39), plans fall intoone of the two categories: vision withoutsubstance and a budget without vision. Theidentified problems of vision without substanceare vagueness of future vision, lack of institutionalvision, current position and time. Identified issuesof budget without vision are questions as to whatproblem is being solved, what are the prioritiesand definition of the roles and responsibilities.With ICT projects being advocated for andfinanced by donors, budget without vision is likelyto be the project plan. Maciaszek (2001, p.10) hassuggested some planning models and methodsfor ICT implementation. Further, Aineruhanga(2004) observes that planning as a tool can helpin reducing waste by identifying the pre-requitesconditions for successful ICT implementationrather than “rushing into a complex e-Governmentstrategy without having first finalized a nationalICT policy”.Three reasons are identified for poor projectplanning in organisations. These are; riskmanagement had not been addressed, businesssystems had not been justified to the full and lackof involvement from management Knott andDawson (1999). These can be taken as the major reasons but are not exhaustive. This is due to thediversity of the implementation environments. Also, as noted by Bannister and Remenyi (2000),p.1), when it comes to complex decisions,managers often rely on methods which do not fallwithin the traditional boundaries of so-calledrational decision making. It is observed thatmanagers sometimes base decisions on ‘acts of faith, gut instinct or blind faith’ (referred to asstrategic insight). As noted by Harindranath(1993), though developing countries commit asizable amount of economic resources to ICT, for them to reap maximum benefits, ICT needscareful planning and coordination prior toimplementation and use otherwise trial and error methods of implementation that characterise mostgovernment ICT applications will only succeed inthe wastage of scarce resources 
www.ejeg.comISSN 1479-439X
177

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