Dr Teo Ho Pin, the Coordinating Chairman of the 14 PAP Town Councils, released a 26 points rebuttal to the questions about selling the software to AIMS, a PAP backed company, and leasing back of it, highlighted some bad IT management practices on developing the original software.

So if you don't have any background in IT but left in charge of a IT program, here are some lessons you can learn from the whole issue.

Lesson 1: Software should aim to be OS and Application agnostic

5. After a comprehensive review, D&T identified various deficiencies and gaps in the system. The main issue, however, was that the system was becoming obsolete and unmaintainable. It had been built in 2003, on Microsoft Windows XP and Oracle Financial 11 platforms. By 2010, Windows XP had been superseded  by Windows Vista as well as Windows 7, and Oracle would soon phase out and discontinue support to its Financial 11 platform.

We are well aware that that Windows and Oracle changes OS and software versions quite often. The original software should have been OS and application agnostic.

Who was in charge of building the original software? Was the question of Windows OS and Oracle upgrade/change considered during the building of the original software?

Ignoring the agnostic approach would lead this types of issue cropping up when a new version of an OS or application is launched.

Lesson 2: Give yourself more than two years head start to evaluate expiring IT contracts

4. In 2010, the NCS contract was going to expire. The TCs got together and jointly appointed Deloitte and Touche Enterprise Risk Services Pte Ltd (“D&T”) to advise on the review of the computer system for all the TCs. Several meetings were held with D&T.

With the contract with NCS expiring in Oct 2010, PAP Town Councils only gave themselves less than one year to evaluate the software.

If possible, give yourself a two years head start or more if you can to evaluate your software contract. This will give you time to evaluate and even create a new contract for IT services, especially for mission critical applications.

Lesson 3: Ensure your IT contract allow room for size variation.

22. Under the contract with AIM, the TCs could terminate the arrangements by giving one month’s notice if the TCs were not satisfied with AIM’s performance. Similarly, AIM could terminate by giving one month’s notice in the event of material changes to the membership of a TC, or to the scope and duties of a TC, like changes to its boundaries. This is reasonable as the contractor has agreed to provide services on the basis of the existing TC- and town-boundaries, and priced this assumption into the tender. Should this change materially, the contractor could end up providing services to a TC which comprises a much larger area and more residents, but at the same price.

Just as in life, data size, such as town boundaries, is bound to change and at most of the time, it is beyond your control. Make sure your IT contracts cover changes so that you will be charged a hefty bill at the end of the day.


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