The fact Victoria still doesn't know how well Myki is performing is a perfect representation of the project’s failure.


Myki is the Victorian Public Transport Ticketing System. The Victorian State Auditor General has identified numerous “risks” associated with Myki and its re-tender (Operational effectiveness of the myki ticketing system report, June 2015).

However, the “risks” identified are not risks at all. The Myki problem is not a risk problem. It is a failure of the orthodox approaches used to deliver the Myki project. 

What is the real problem with Myki?

Myki has been a troubled project throughout its delivery period and continues to be so in live operation.

Additional controls, more governance and the use of “experts” will have little impact on fixing Myki. The true problem with Myki is deeper and requires more than just a band-aid fix of “better risk management”.

Poor projects cannot be fixed without a fundamental re-think. The root problem which leads to poor business results is the orthodox approach used for projects - both by Government and more widely in industry. 

Neither map nor compass

The problems arise because projects are green-lighted without knowing what they are trying to achieve and what the future operational environment looks like when it is working "just right".

Projects lack a clear specifc and measurable definition of the desired outcomes, the benefits and the value to be delivered, together with the major change activities required to achieve them – TOP calls this the “Value Equation™”. 

Now it may sound obvious to be clear about what you are trying to achieve before you kick the project delivery activities off, but this is rarely the case. Instead we have, for example:

  • “Investment Logic Maps” that capture a few brief reasons for doing the project and, separately, a list of KPIs to be used, plus sets of objectives and deliverables which are usually defining the means not the ends to be achieved.
  • Or Benefits and their Value defined only in order to get the project approved rather than to ensure their delivery.
  • Or project Activities defined but not the enabling non-project activities, leaving these to chance, accidental delivery or "user readiness" to magically deliver.

What is of real concern, is that these components are ususally separate - when you need to directly link each and every project activity to the specific outcome and its benefits and value it is delivering.

The "wrong" end point

The project end point for the orthodox project management and delivery methods is defined in terms of completion of "deliverables' or ‘outputs’ which enable ‘capabilities’. This is the wrong end point; instead what you actually need is a working "just right" operational environment. 

The Myki project is a classic example of this. The end of the project was defined in terms of the software & hardware being live. What the project's end point should have been was a ticketing system that easily collected ticketing revenue, provided the needed information at the lowest cost and with the highest levels of traveller compliance that could have been acheived. 

When you know the destination before you start the journey... 

When organisations do define their projects' Outcomes, Benefits, Value and Change Activities - the Value Equation - they increase the targeted value, streamline the project (reducing its costs of delivery) and make each aspect of the project clear and measurable so at any time, the real status and progress of the project and the likelihood of success can be objectively assessed.

This puts the governance committee in control of the project, simply and easily. This is the type of control and risk-mitigation strategy that is required to fix Myki. (And which still could fix it). 

Ever increasing layers of controls and governance, and more fingers in the pie as consultants and others get involved in overseeing projects, is simply, a recipe for disaster, not results.

To change the results of projects like Myki, you need to change the processes so that the starting point is to define "what are we trying to achieve" and what does it all look like when it is working just right. 

It's that simple. 

Explore further 

Download our eBook - The Value of the Value Equation,

Learn  more in our book "THE VALUE OF THE TOP VALUE EQUATION"



Topics: Project Governance

Further Reading



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Revision History

First published: Simms, J. (mmm yyyy) as "insert Original Title"

Updated: Chapman, A. (March 2020), Revisions and corrections