I've come across this story quite a few times here in the UK:
Summary: We're spunking £12 Billion on some health software with barely anything working.
I was sitting the office discussing this with my colleagues, and we had a little think about. From what I can see, all the NHS needs is a database + middle tier of drugs/hospitals/patients/prescriptions objects, and various GUIs for doctors and nurses to look at. You'd also need to think about security and scalability. And you'd need to sit around a hospital/pharmacy/GPs office for a bit to figure out what they need.
But, all told, I'd say I could knock together something with that kind of structure in a couple of days, and maybe throw in a month or two to make it work in scale. *
If I had a few million quid, I could probably hire some really excellent designers to make a maintainable codebase, and also buy appropriate hardware to run the system on. I hate to trivialize something that seems to have caused to much trouble, but to me it looks like just a big distributed CRUD + UI system.
So how on earth did this project bloat to £12B without producing much useful software?
As I don't think the software sounds so complicated, I can only imagine that something about how it was organised caused this mess. Is it outsourcing that's the problem? Is it not getting the software designers to understand the medical business that caused it?
What are your experiences with projects gone over budget, under delivered? What are best practices for large projects? Have you ever worked on such a project?
*This bit seemed to get a lot of attention. What I mean is I could probably do this for say, 30 users, spending a few tens of thousands of pounds. I'm not including stuff I don't know about the medical industry and government, but I think most people who've been around programming are familiar with that kind of database/front end kind of design. My point is the NHS project looks like a BIG version of this, with bells and whistles, notably security. But surely a budget millions of times larger than mine could provide this?