Four out of nine state information system projects failed a recent audit the National Audit Office said in a statement on Wednesday.
A project was considered a failure if it was not implemented with the allocated budget, by the agreed time and with the required functionality. The results will be used to improve projects in the future.
These projects were the Estonian Research Information System (ETIS2), the information system for bailiffs for carrying out execution proceedings (e-Täitur), the second version of the social protection information system (SKAIS2) and the identification and proceedings information system of the Police and Border Guard Board (UUSIS).
The projects were considered to have failed for the following reasons, the National Audit Office said:
"ETIS2: the requirements to the information system changed due to the changes made in the area of research, which is why they had to be introduced to the information system as it was being developed, and the development plan was also too optimistic.
E-Täitur: the leader of the development project did not take the needs of users into account, the roles and tasks of the people participating in the project were not clearly described, the cooperation of the parties was also plagued by problems.
SKAIS2: the processes of the principal activities were not described or optimised and legislation was often amended, which is why changes had to made to ongoing developments; the roles and tasks of the people participating in the project were not clearly described, the cooperation of the parties was plagued by problems; financing problems also appeared.
UUSIS: legislation was often amended, there was a lack of developers and money, the developers changed, control of the quality of the development was inadequate and updating the outdated information system was difficult."
The auditors said more attention needed to be paid to agreeing the main activities before the start of the project, to the people involved in software development teams, and to make sure they are trained before projects start. Auditors also suggested carrying out development out in smaller stages, asking for feedback, and to take into account the ability to update information systems when legislation is created.
The objective of the audit was to find out if and why software developments in the public sector fail. The best practice of various agencies or areas of administration in software development was reviewed and the most important and success factors and reasons for failure were assessed.
Significant amounts of money are spent on software development and the finished software or information systems have an important role in the management of the public sector and the provision of services, the National Audit Office said.
Editor: Helen Wright