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Who Does Your Consultant Work For?

There is an interesting article by Robert Cringely at pbs.org about IT consultants. I disagree with the categorization of types of consultants however the article is interesting because he mentions the following case:

“What led me to write this column were the troubles of a local company here in Charleston — American LaFrance, the storied maker of fire engines. American LaFrance was last year spun off from Freightliner, the big truck manufacturer, which agreed to maintain the company’s computer systems for a few months while the new American LaFrance bought its own systems with the help of a big IT consultant that rhymes with I-B-M. At the time of the cutover the project was months late and millions over budget. The company suddenly had no idea where it stood in any part of its business and today is in bankruptcy likely as a result.”

He then goes on to suggest that the issue was primarily one of bad requirements. The story reminded me of a presentation that I attended by a turnaround specialist. He made a living going into trouble companies and fixing them. He said that he could find all his customers by just following around PeopleSoft (or any large ERP vendor’s) salespeople.

Wherever they sold their software, the failed software implementation would take down the company!

He said that the primary reason that the software failed was not because the software was bad, but because management wasn’t willing to force the business users to change their processes to accomodate the off the shelf software.

As a result, the IT team had to accomodate every whim of the business.

Sound familiar?

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