But I suppose we must settle for 'learning lessons' - without much optimism that it will do any good. The public sector is notoriously prone to great systems disasters, with the NHS well to the fore.
Actually, it is my strong belief that the private sector is just as bad - but finds it easier to cover up. In one of the more chequered phases of my career I got an excellent insider's perspective on this; and since then have watched many a software project disaster played out in energy companies. Many, perhaps most of these have been truly avoidable - proven solutions being installed in conventional circumstances, and still cocked-up to buggery, at enormous expense. Why does it all go so wrong, so often ? Here are my Top 5 Lessons Learned (from a very long list indeed).
- keep Systems Integrators on a very short leash. Or dispense with the bastards altogether, their added value is less than their fee by an order of magnitude - when it's not actually negative. (I am being very restrained here, in the wake of Sally Bercow's little difficulty)
- after a careful selection process, get the vendor to install their standard package with as few customisations as possible, ideally none whatsoever. It's much easier for you to adapt to a proven solution (which, almost certainly, actually works) than the other way around - and to hold the vendor to their performance obligations
- never, ever be a beta site for any mission-critical or enterprise-wide system. Or ever, really
- demand to meet - and vet - all the vendor's team who'll be installing the product. They will resist this like hell. Ask yourself why ...
- dispense with System Integrators. I may have mentioned this already ...