Virtual Case File

1. Project Background Virtual Case File (VCF) was a software utility developed for the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) between 2000 and 2005. It was built to replace the FBI’s old case administration system named Automated Case Support (ACS) system. VCF was a third part of FBI’s Trilogy Project. The first element of the Trilogy project was upgrading of software and hardware (computer terminals, servers, printers and servers). The second element half was upgrading of FBI’s community infrastructure. The third component was modernizing the FBI’s investigative software applications by creating VCF.

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Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC) was contracted to design, develop and implement VCF system in 2001. The Trilogy project was originally budgeted for $379.eighty million and scheduled to be deployed in 2004 (U.S. Department of Justice, 2005).

The main goal of VCF was to automate the FBI’s paper-based techniques and processes, permit FBI brokers and analysts to obtain essential details about circumstances anywhere in the United States, and to ultimately exchange the antiquated ACS system (Goldstein, 2005).

VCF would additionally include an evidence administration module, a case administration module and a data administration module. There was no business software program package out there that might meet FBI’s wants in 2001 when the project began, so a custom-developed system answer was required (Marchewka, 2010).

The VCF project failed to satisfy its preliminary deadline and was by no means deployed. It was formally cancelled by the FBI in April 2005 after 4 years of project activity and costing $581 million (Goldstein, 2005; U.S. Department of Justice, 2005).

2.Project Review The FBI Trilogy project was delayed by nearly one 12 months.

The two elements had been successfully accomplished however Virtual Case File was never completed. The only functioning feature of the VCF system was the workflow element. Users were able to create case packages and automate the submission course of.

A thorough tested carried out by the FBI from opening a case, creating leads and shutting an investigation identified roughly 400 problems. The FBI couldn’t create, search and analyse case leads and case information (U.S. Department of Justice, 2005). The VCF system didn’t have an offline use mode. FBI agents engaged on the case couldn’t extract case materials from the system to use when working in the area. The VCF did not permit customers to sort columns of knowledge to permit easier searching of information. It did have an audit path of case files within the system therefore was vulnerable to security breaches. In a nut-shell, the VCF system didn’t meet the FBI’s present wants.

3.Reasons for failure The VCF project failed due to a sequence of mistakes that result in a sequence of occasions that finally result in the final word failure of the project. The causes of the project are frequent with different failed IT projects. The causes of failure might be analysed towards the CHAOS critical success elements for initiatives (Standish Group, 2009).

3.1User Involvement There was lack of consumer involvement within the VCF project. Key users have been never involved from the necessities gathering and usability testing stage, that are the important thing phases of an IT project. Without involving users, the SAIC growth team discovered it very difficult to understand all the requirements. As a result options that weren’t required were applied whereas required features were not applied.

3.2Executive Management Support From the start of the project, it was clear that the VCF project lacked govt help. Even though funds have been made out there for the project, there was an rising inner and exterior strain to complete the system shortly (Goldstein, 2005). The September eleven 2001 bombings increased the necessity for the system. This resulted in SAIC agreeing to unrealistic project deadlines and taking shortcuts by way of planning and system improvement. .

3.3Clear Statement of Requirements According to Mueller (2005), the FBI did not have full set of system requirements when the contract was awarded to SAIC. Even though the FBI had an 800-plus necessities doc, the necessities were too difficult, incomplete and never sufficiently outlined. Also the requirements paperwork centered extra on the finer particulars of the system format as a substitute of the excessive stage capabilities of the system (Goldstein, 2005). Failure of the VCF project was additionally caused by constantly changing requirements. During the project life-cycle, the FBI made four hundred change requests most of which had main impression on what was already designed and produced.

3.4Proper planning The VCF project lacked of proper planning. Firstly, the FBI had no Chief Information Officer (CIO) initially of the project. Without a CIO, the FBI had no standard software infrastructure. The FBI had 23 divisions, each with their very own IT budget, investigations database and functions (Goldstein, 2005). Secondly, the FBI had no Enterprise Architecture (EA) in place to assist them in making efficient choices about IT initiatives. This shortage result in the SAIC builders having no formal documentation of how the FBI’s IT structure and methods are mapped to its processes to information them through the growth of the VCF system. Also SAIC was awarded a contract that didn’t have an outlined project schedule and milestones.

3.5Realistic Expectations The urgent want for the VCF system by the FBI, pressure from the public and authorities result in SAIC and the FBI agreeing to unrealistic and impressive project completion dates. Due to the pressure, SAIC agreed to deliver the initial model of the VCF 6 months earlier than the unique date.

3.6Smaller Project Milestones SAIC wanted to deliver a full working system with none milestones. This resulted in large and main re-changes of the system throughout system review and testing.

3.7Competent Staff At the beginning of the project, the FBI had no Chief Information Officer. This resulted within the appointment of a project supervisor, who had no experience in IT project management (Goldstein, 2005). Considering the size and price range of the VCF project it was very important to have a very experienced project manager to go the project. Having an inexperienced project manager can lead to poor project management practices and insurance policies. For instance, SAIC was awarded a weak contract that did not specify completion milestones, evaluate phases and penalties for missed milestones (U.S. Department of Justice, 2005). In addition, the contract was primarily based on hours worked quite than deliverables (Mueller, 2005). In a nut-shell all the FBI had an inexperienced IT team with no expertise in software development initiatives and common project management.

3.8Ownership The VCF project had 15 completely different key personnel, this included 5 different chief info officers and 10 completely different project managers through the project span (U.S. Department of Justice, 2005). This high turnover in key personnel concerned in the project lead to an absence of project possession and accountability.

3.9Clear Vision & Objectives The VCF project lacked clear goals. The terrorist attacks in September eleven 2001, Hanssen espionage case and Oklahoma City bombing case triggered the FBI to often change the project aims (U.S. Department of Justice, 2005).

4.Alternatives to stop failure This part will highlight some the choices that the FBI could have thought-about to avert failure of the VCF project.

4.1Enterprise Architecture The FBI ought to have thought-about having EA before commencing the VCF project. It would have helped SAIC in mapping the FBI processes and systems. The lack of an EA leads to a poor necessities evaluation which will increase the possibilities of an IT project failing.

4.2Human Resources The FBI ought to have thought of having a CIO and skilled IT project manager before awarding the contract. A CIO would have ensured that the FBI has adequate personnel with the best expertise set for the VCF project. An experienced project manager will have ensured that correct project administration procedures and planning are adopted.

4.3Contract management Considering the scale, complexity and value of the project the FBI wanted a well-defined contract that explicitly states and addresses key points similar to milestones, deliverables and penalties. Also the cost phrases of the contract should have been based mostly on deliverables and milestones.

4.4Requirement analysis A thorough requirements evaluation should have been done that might have produced an exhaustively detailed necessities documents. SAIC shouldn’t have started creating the system without having a radical understanding of the requirements.

4.5Phased approach Considering the dimensions and complexity of the project, the project ought to have been developed and deployed in phases. A big-bang method to massive IT projects often fails.

4.6Communication Better communication was want between FBI, SAIC and the executive administration. This would have avoided unrealistic schedules and expectations between the three members.

5.Lessons for Management This section will highlight some the necessary thing classes to be learned from the failure of the VCF project.

5.1Enterprise Architecture (EA) is significant for IT An EA is extremely important in strategically managing a company’s investment in IT and must be a basis for any massive IT project.

5.2Plan earlier than you act Large IT tasks want thorough planning of sources and time. This also involves having clear and full requirements before any growth work is began.

5.3Human capital administration Having the right folks with right skills and expertise on the right positions is significant. Also ensuring minimal turnover of key personnel during a project’s life-cycle is important to the success of the project.

5.4Incremental approach Large IT tasks have to be developed and deployed in phases. A phased approach helps to reduce the danger of failure and allows problems to identified and glued early.

5.5Financial assets Financial capital is not a short minimize to faster delivery. Large IT tasks need practical schedules to ensure their success.

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