Automation fast-track


Once the go-ahead for such projects has been secured, then Immigration's IT department is responsible for the success of that project. "The pressure is immense and all related departments must be supportive of these projects for them to succeed," said Wong.

"I often remind myself and colleagues that we are not here to buy fancy toys and tools," he said. "We have to be pragmatic and [request] exactly what we need and no more-systems should always match the actual requirements."

Clearly expressing the requirements of the project is also key to effective project management, he said. The Immigration Department's track record in major project rollouts has been excellent with no significant deviations from recent proposed project timeline, according to Wong.

Given that many projects today are contracted out to service providers, management of contractors is critical. "Project contracts should be clear but also maintain some flexibility for minor changes-but they should not deviate from the core objectives," said Wong.

Attention to project management has been heightened in the last year with the high profile failures of two government contracts. In June 2005, the Hong Kong treasury cancelled its project with IBM after Big Blue failed to meet a deadline for the first phase of a HK$350 million (US$45 million) contract to design and install a financial management system across the government's departments.