British Gas is suing Accenture for £182m in costs connected to the failure of a new billing system put in place by the consultants in 2006. Problems with the system led to a massive increase in complaints against the gas supplier. Centrica, British Gas's parent company, has already written off £200m due to problems with the …
Bits and Bobs
1) Diagrams *can* be important deliverables for enterprise architects; depends on what's on it (and what's gone into it)
2) Highly paid lawyers don't generally write the small print for each individual contract, but for the general base contract. I've seen contracts where all the consultants actually firmly promise to deliver is a bill. Although for something this size, you'd probably want the lawyers in on both sides to check it.
3) Do Cap (etc) people get commission for each new person they sell in? Of *course* they do! (or rather: it contributes to your annual review on which bonuses, payrises and promotions are based)
4) re Posing Pouches - the biggest one of this ilk was a client, not a consultant. Mind you, he was an *ex* consultant, so maybe you're right.
Helicopters, in case my employers (no, not Accenture) are reading.
@ Brett Weaver
I didn't mention any successful projects because it's so obvious that you can't sustain a $20bn business when you always fail to deliver. Just go to the Accenture website for examples. However, with the general cynicism around I would bet that most people reading these comments would doubt these stories.
I fully agree with you in that the industry in general delivers terrible results. My point is that the majority of the comments on this article focus on the supplier, and the supplier alone. It's insane to think that consultancies are the only and/or main cause of IT projects going wrong. Sure, some are culpable, but the comments are so rabid and out of kilter with reality that I feel some balance is needed. BTW I'm not necessarily a big supporter of Accenture; I've had good and bad experiences with them in the past (more good than bad it has to be said). Consultancies do require a good balance of guidance and support from the client to succeed.
I do understand that with the amount of money pumped into consultancies people expect results. But anyone with even a cursory knowledge of how to deliver large IT programs knows that throwing money at the problem and hiring a consultancy alone will not solve the problem.
Also, my point about only badly run projects make the press still stands. Do a search on The Reg's site for Accenture (and most other consultancy firms) and the vast majority of news is about how the problems projects face. I searched and it was interesting to note that even when Accenture and BAE pulled out of the Govt's Identity Card project at the tender stage there was some criticism.
1. @ Pringle = This dude is spot on
2. @ Spit = Anderson Consulting, they used to be part off...then split...then profit shared, then AC died, ACC lived on
3. I'm a little pissed that they rejected me for a graduate job, I was probably the only graduate that has ever applied with 5 years experience (of successful projects! Complete with positive press news!) whilst studying...urgh...
@ Anonymous Coward
I'm not here necessarily to support Accenture, rather to redress the complete imbalance of some of the remarkably ill-informed comments (like your one about over-time payments; Accenture UK doesn't pay their staff over-time, much to their chagrin - I know, I used to sign off their invoices for a project). If you want success stories just look at their website; there seem to be lots there:
I really don't, or can't, dispute individual cases of incompetance from Accenture or any other consultancy. I'm sure there are plenty. Just give it some balance please! Your last comment about being rejected by them speaks volumes.
I worked for a large multi-national company. They axed 1/2 the IT staff, including me, and outsourced all our development to Accenture who moved it all to Bangalore. For 4 weeks I attempted to communicate to the Indian chaps (really sound guys BTW) how our systems worked and what was involved in support. They had no idea and less of an interest, who could blame them. As long as there was at least a 1 page document with a screen shot they were happy to take over development and support. Thats how it worked.
Anyone left working for Accenture have subsequently found different jobs or are off on sick with stress.
Glad I got out when I did, with a nice redundancy. :)
Paris.... well just cos.
@Hedley Lamarr/A Consultant
You're only serving yourselves up as flame bait, of course accenture has 'success' stories so do most big 5 consutlancies, however they have numerous failures. I've worked with accenture in projects in Asia, Australia and Europe and its the same old story. The whole practice of delivering exactly what the client asks for is common, its a great get out clause when things go wrong, you often end up with a version of the old system built on new technology, the client needs an expert to direct and guide them. Accenture are very skilfull at perception and management. Accenture always blames the client/vendor or any other poor soul or happens to be nearby.
We used to refer them in their former guise as A**eholes & C**ts. For some funny reposts, go to the old Big Time Consulting site, not been updated in a long time but still deadly accurate.
Oh I wrote a rant, and then decided it wasn't worth it. But it is mainly amsuing to see how much bilge one person can write in 20+ posts.
As another poor unfortunate...
I was also on the project at the early stages. We had Siebel come in telling the ACN and Centrica "oh, yes sir, you can do that, and this and this with Siebel", and I *personally* warned them that they were pushing the software beyond what it was designed to do, altering basic data structures that would lead to the product being unupgradeable, but was ignored. Centrica Mgt listened to what they wanted to hear.
For the billing side, ACN brought in people who had successful done this from the US and Canada. There were a lot of yanks in Chertsey. You've got to ask - why did it work in these companies in the US, but the same people failed in Chertsey. Answer - client with its head in the sand wanting every feature regardless of how unstable it made the overall system.
Consulting for Dummies
OK - how many ex-public sector monopoly companies have management that are in-touch with commercial realities of doing business?
So what do the management in such organisations do?
Answer: Play the internal games that are required to make them look good ... which consist of not-taking-risks and making charlie-in-accounts look like a moron while backstabbing angela-in-hr.
When a committee decides that the core business system that ensures cashflow needs a major update, because the auditors have described the core-system as a major risk for the past 5 years, what's the best way to avoid risks?
Answer: Employ a firm of consultants who have a proven track record
What's the last thing that a 'play-it-safe-and-wait-for-my-massive-fat-cat-pension' management type would want to do?
Answer: Sue a large firm of consultants and have it on the public record that the management of XYZ corporation completely failed to pay attention and correctly govern the massively expensive project they handed over to the consultants?
What's going on at BG - has someone forgotten to play-it-safe? Or is someone trying to cover their fat-cat ass? There's only one set of people that are going to look like a pack-of-f**kwits at the end of the sorry saga - and it won't be the consulting firm.
It's about time someone let Richard Branson loose in the utility sector in the UK - giving fat-cat-corporations the shaft is his speciality. Look what he did for British Airways.
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