The Programme Doctor


More than two out of three programmes implementing complex business transformation enabled by technology fail to deliver either in part or completely. There are some frequently recurring issues which cause this to happen. If you have a programme or project which has gone off the rails, you need some expert advice to bring things back on track. The Programme Doctor is Digital Finance Analytics's service designed to do just this.


Programme failure is commonplace, especially when there is a significant IT element and business change involved. In September 2011, Oxford University’s Saïd Business School found that large ICT projects were twenty times more likely to fail than other projects.. Their research was the largest global study of ICT change initiatives, assessing 1,500 projects worth a total of $245 billion. One in six of the projects reported an average cost overrun of 200% and a time overrun of almost 70%.


Yet, in the modern digital environment, ICT is becoming more and more embedded within the business. So how should organisations structure such programmes for success, and how should troublesome in-flight programmes be tackled to bring them back on track?


The truth is that the seeds for failure start with issues of strategy, leadership, planning and business engagement, even before we touch the technology. In addition, many so called "unique methods" pushed by the IT vendors are in reality little more than technical blueprinting off an existing set of functions and capabilities. Do you bend the business or bend the system? Often there is an assumed "miracle" which somehow will deliver on the promise. This is simply not going to happen.


We have assisted many clients with troublesome programmes and projects, using our custom diagnostic capability to pinpoint the root causes of the problems. This enables us to lay out a plan to resolve the issues, and bring the programme back on track. Sometimes though the programme is beyond repair, and needs to be stopped. Stopping an in-flight programme is the most difficult task to complete, but it can be the right answer.


We can swiftly diagnose the issues which are causing the problems, using our capability maturity framework. We also hold benchmarking data from more than 100 programmes, so we can compare a troublesome programme against these benchmarks. Our diagnostic framework has more than 200 elements designed to quickly get to the underlying issues.

































The chart shows how recent assessments have mapped, and highlights the need to focus on both the coherence of the programme and programme control, two quite different though connected, dimensions. Using our experience, and results achieved by programmes in our database, we can assess whether the programme is likely to succeed or fail.


In our assessment, we look across the programme from a number of dimensions. These include:

Programme Objectives, Governance and Structure

Programme Outcomes, Key Milestones and KPI's

Initiative and Sub-Programme Listing

Initiative and Sub-Programme Plans

Resourcing Plan

Risks Register

Dependency Analysis, Programme Synergies and Critical Paths

Change Management Plan

Quick Wins



We also consider the structure of the programme. These include:

Board and CEO Sponsorship

Executive Team Sponsorship

Executive Engagement

Business Engagement

ICT Engagement

Quantum of Business Change Recognised

Quantum of System Change Recognised

Quantum of IT Platform Change Recognised

Supplier Alignment


Finally, and most importantly, we examine the coherence and readiness of the programme, and its alignment from strategy to delivery. This includes:

Business Strategy

Target Operating Model

Enterprise Architecture

Business Design

Business Functional Specifications

Technical Design

Technical Functional Specifications

Implementation Planning

Business Implementation and Change

Technical Implementation and Change

Business Case and Benefits Plan


We can produce a swift diagnostic to home in on the issues which need attention, and we use our analytic tool-sets to explore the root cause issues and present the findings in a compelling format. Contact us for further information about the Programme Doctor..




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