New ATO enterprise content management system


In 2004 ATO decided to build an enterprise content management system (and tools for management of this process). It turned out, however, that the system was so complex or the technology was inadequate to perform the system tasks. The complexity of the problem resulted from the fact that it touched many aspects – IT, computer systems, business processes, user-centered design. It resulted in a battle between the direct participants of the project who defined the role of the user in their individual ways and wanted the others to accept their own points of view as most relevant. Reaching an agreement was the very important. On the other hand little consideration was given to employees – who will actually be direct users of the newly designed systems. Although the voice of “customers” - taxpayers - were taken into account, but staff were thought of as a resource that could be trained and thus they had no real influence on the shape of the system. No attention was paid to system usability and a naturally designed structure and it was one of the reasons that the system could not be successfully completed. Ambitious attitude of the project team was the reason that the whole project implementation was scheduled for three months only. Such a short lead time made it impossible to conduct reliable interviews, observations, etc. The developers of the system adopted the roles of users. Most of the decisions in the project were made based on authors’ own experience without proper external testing. The whole testing process consisted of only two iterations, even worse was that these iterations took place on two consecutive days. As a result the process documentation was of really bad quality. However, the tests allowed to identify the reasons of why the project had no chances for success. The reasons were: user roles not matching real needs, no user control, cultural issues, necessity to learn new roles, etc. The human – system link was totally neglected since IT issues were in the centre of interests instead of human factors. Anyway, the holistic evaluation of the project brought some positive insights. In spite of the failure the project enabled to define how the whole process should look like. ATO reanalysed their structure, attitude to taxpayers and procedures and, finally, created a document titled “Redesigning ATO” that was then published to invite feedback from the society. Currently ATO (after 12 years) has a modern world-class website that engages users into the development process (according to the Design Thinking methodology it is an answer to user suggestions).

New ATO enterprise content management system


The project failure was mainly caused by a wrong approach adopted by the project team. Also a very tight schedule did not help the situation. It was a large-scale project, involving taxpayers across the country, and required much more time for implementation. In this case, however, time was too short both at the design and at the testing and evaluation stage. The project team’s approach was also incorrect. They did not seek any benchmarks and external expertise but relied solely on their own knowledge.