If you listen closely, you might hear the faint echoes: “One solution to rule them all”, they said. “We’ll save millions”, they said. “We’ll launch the new system with just the push of a button” "A flick of a switch." And some fool decided to name the new system Phoenix – it would “rise from the ashes” they said.

What happened? It's been an unbelievable catastrophe!

Since the launch of Phoenix Payroll System:

  • 2 different Prime Ministers have held office.
  • 3 CIOs have served Government of Canada.
  • Billions spent.
  • Billions more to go (not to mention a decade of litigation).
  • The system *still* fails to deliver accurate payroll across the country.

The silver lining is knowing that all government officials understand that Phoenix is never going to work. They all agree it has failed.  (Since when has our government unanimously agreed on anything?!) They do agree on this.

The proof? They've tendered an NPP (Notice of Proposed Procurement) for what they're calling the "next generation HR and pay solution".

Will they abandon and replace Phoenix? Will they surgically overhaul Phoenix? Is a new mega-project underway?

In this session, we will examine the history of Phoenix, understand its current state, and – given what we know of the government's track-record and recent policy changes – speculate whether the billions they'll spend next will render any value for Canadians.

Practical themes will include: project charters versus product goals; "Agile Procurement" (Alex Binay's term; former CIO of Government of Canada); phase-gating for the Treasury Board; Systemantics.

Session Track

Agile Government

Experience level


Session Time Slot(s)