Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Analysis of the FBI’s Virtual Case File Project Failure

In September 2000, the project by the name “FITUP” (FBI Information Technology Upgrade Project) was proposed by FBI. The estimated time completion for the project was 3 years and approximately 379.8 $ millions was allocated to this project. Later on this project’s name was turned into “Trilogy”. As the name suggests the project “Trilogy” was divided into three parts:-

·         Upgrading of the traditional software and hardware.
·         Modernizing the network communication infrastructure.
·         Upgrading of the FBI’s case management system (Virtual Case File).

The whole project was delayed by almost one year and even it overran in cost as well. The project that should be completed in 3 years actually took 4 years and still was not completed. The first two parts were completed somehow but the main goal of the Virtual Case File was not completed. There were many reasons for the failure of the project just like the London Stock Exchange failure case.

When we dissect the failure of the FBI’s project then one could notice that there were a series of mistakes that formed a chain of events that consequently led to the failure of the project. One of the most important failure cause could be the change of the project managers, CIO’s and the contract persons. In the span of 4 years there were around 36 contract people, 10 project managers and 5 CIO’s who were change. Now it is really a big question mark on the World’s top rated intelligence department to undergo such a mistake.

The other most important cause for the failure of the project was the continuous scope creep in the project that caused its failure. Since the 9/11 there were continuously change in demand by the higher authorities. FBI was a criminal catching agency but now it was heading towards “Intelligence” work. It was one of the reason that led to the scope creep because by turning itself into the Intelligence department it was very well understood that there was a need of more advance systems and security experts.

Also the requirements of the FBI’s project were very ill defined and they were always increasing as the project was progressing. The “over wishful thinking” was also a major cause of its failure. The outcome and schedule of the project was more targeted to a desired outcome than an expected outcome. If the scope and requirements were ket in mind then this would not have been the case.

The FBI and the contractor’s deal were also not well aligned. There was no penalties if the work was not done on time and the biggest mistake could be that there was no milestone set by the FBI and this was an advantage for the contractor’s as they could skip the milestone plus the penalties.

prepared by Z. Imran.


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2 Anatomy of IT Disaster: how the FBI blew it.
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6 Wikepedia