List of failed and overbudget custom software projects
||The examples and perspective in this article may not represent a worldwide view of the subject. (October 2013)|
This is a list of notable custom software projects which have significantly failed to achieve some or all of their objectives, either temporarily or permanently, and/or have suffered from significant cost overruns. For a list of successful major custom software projects, see Custom software#Major project successes.
Note that failed projects, and projects running over budget, are not necessarily the sole fault of the employees or businesses creating the software. In some cases, problems may be due partly to problems with the purchasing organisation, including poor requirements, over-ambitious requirements, unnecessary requirements, poor contract drafting, poor contract management, poor end-user training, or poor operational management.
Because software, unlike a major civil engineering construction project, is often easy and cheap to change after it has been constructed, a piece of custom software that fails to deliver on its objectives may sometimes be modified over time in such a way that it later succeeds - and/or business processes or end-user mindsets may change to accommodate the software. However, sometimes, for various reasons, neither approach succeeds (or is even tried), and this may be considered as another level of failure - a permanent failure.
|Year(s)||System name||Type of system||Country or region||Type of purchaser||Problems||Cost (expected)||Outsourced or in-house?||Outcome|
|2009 - 2013||The Surrey Integrated Reporting Enterprise Network (SIREN)||Crime & criminal intellegence logging system||United Kingdom (Surrey)||Police Force||Not fit for purpose||£15m||Outsourced||Scrapped|
|1980s - 1993||TAURUS||Electronic trading platform||United Kingdom (London)||Stock exchange||Scope creep, cost overrun. The project was never completed.||£75m||?||Cancelled|
|1992||LASCAD||Computer-aided dispatch for emergency ambulances||United Kingdom (London)||Central government||Ambulance delays and other problems caused by the introduction of the system may have led to up to 30 deaths. The Chief of the London Ambulance Service resigned as a result.||£1.5m||Outsourced||Scrapped|
|2002 - 2011||National Programme for IT||Electronic care records||United Kingdom||Central government||Beset by delays and ballooning costs, and the software part of it was never finished. The government was also criticised for not demonstrating value for money. Although the contracts were drafted to ensure that the contractors would be forced to bear a significant portion of the cost of the project going wrong if it did go wrong, in reality this did not always happen. The NPfIT was described by Members of Parliament as one of the "worst and most expensive contracting fiascos" ever.||£12bn (£2.3bn)||Outsourced||Discontinued, but some parts continued|
|2008 - 2013||Digital Media Initiative||Digital production, media asset management||United Kingdom||State broadcaster||By 2013, the project was judged to be obsolete (as much cheaper commercial off the shelf alternatives by then existed) and was scrapped by BBC management. The BBC Director General said it had been a huge waste of money.||more than £98m (£81.7m)||Outsourced, then insourced, then outsourced again||Cancelled|
|2012 - 2014||Cover Oregon||Healthcare exchange website||United States||State government||Site was never able to accept online enrollments, so users were instructed to mail in paper enrollments instead.||approx $200m||Outsourced||Cancelled, then client and supplier both sued each other|
Temporary issues and mere budget overruns
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Projects with ongoing problems
Until the significant problems with these projects are resolved, or the projects cancelled, it is not yet possible to classify them into one of the above categories.
|Year(s)||System name||Type of system||Country or region||Type of purchaser||Problems||Cost (expected)||Outsourced or in-house?|
|2011-2014||Panoptix by Johnson Controls||Building automation||United States||Building owners||Lack of foresight in building efficiency markets, poor managerial decisions, and overhiring of unqualified employees/contractors resulted in a high-maintenance low-quality product, which has failed to meet projected sales by at least a factor of 10. The project has officially been debranded, and references to its existence from other products are actively being removed. Clarification: Panoptix is a JCI first in public facing Cloud based solutions. The development of a Global platform to collect building data is key to being able to offer support for continuous Fault Detection and Diagnostics, Energy Management, and Green Building Initiatives. A re-branding effort is underway to advance JCI's efforts to provide World Class solutions packaged to support both on premise and Cloud based installations. ||$100 million USD and rising||In-house|
|2013||HealthCare.gov||Healthcare exchange website||United States||Federal government||By some estimates, only 1% of people managed to successfully enroll with the site in its first week of operation. On October 20, 2013, President Barack Obama remarked, "There's no sugar coating: the website has been too slow, people have been getting stuck during the application process and I think it's fair to say that nobody's more frustrated by that than I am."||Ongoing and difficult to estimate||Outsourced|
|2013||Universal Credit||Welfare payments system consolidation||United Kingdom||Central government||The schedule has slipped. Only one of four planned pilots went ahead according to the original schedule, and this pilot was restricted to extremely simple cases. There were reports that all the benefit calculations had to be done manually in spreadsheets, which implied that only the digital forms part of the system was working correctly. A maximum of 25,000 people – just 0.2% of all benefit recipients – will be transferred onto Universal Credit by the next general election in 2015||£12.8bn (estimated) (£2.2bn)||Outsourced|
- "NHS IT system one of 'worst fiascos ever', say MPs". BBC News. 18 September 2013. Retrieved 29 September 2013.
- "BBC abandons £100m digital project". BBC News. 24 May 2013. Retrieved 16 October 2013.
- Rick Moranis (12 April 2014). "New future on the horizon for Panoptix". Johnson Controls. Retrieved 26 April 2014.
- Paul Ford (16 October 2013). "The Obamacare Website Didn't Have to Fail. How to Do Better Next Time". Bloomberg Businessweek. Retrieved 16 October 2013.
- Kelley Vlahos (11 October 2013). "Just how much did HealthCare.gov cost?". Fox News. Retrieved 16 October 2013.
- Mark Ballard (3 June 2013). "Universal Credit will cost taxpayers £12.8bn". Computer Weekly. Retrieved 16 October 2013.