True Story: When Consultants Don't Always Keep Things Under Control
The Company: Large, full line-of-business health plan operating in multiple states
The Systems: Multiple, quasi-home-grown, core administration systems running in multiple data centers
The Project: Consolidate all core administration systems onto one, new, vendor-supplied and supported system
The Execution Approach: Hire a large, international consulting firm to plan and manage the project, and augment the company’s project team
The company’s executives with day-to-day responsibilities for the project lacked experience with very large projects, and with managing large consulting firms
While the consulting firm’s Project Management Office was sophisticated in its tools and processes, it acted more as a “score keeper” rather than a project control mechanism
The vast majority of the consulting firm’s people lacked knowledge of the vendor software
Significant changes to the vendor software were identified as “must haves”
Given their expertise as consultants but lack of system knowledge, the consulting firm’s team members pushed through many questionable design decisions
Due to the lack of a robust implementation methodology and steadfast scope control, business requirements were a moving target – making the project scope fluid
Due to a fluid project scope, deliverables were scrapped, and work re-done – causing significant project delays
Upon completing a quarter of the project scope, three quarters of the project budget was consumed
Project was re-planned/re-budgeted/re-started, company project executives were replaced, the company took over project planning and management responsibility, the consulting firm was terminated, new consultants were engaged on a staff augmentation basis, the project completed years late and 200%-300% over the original budget
To Help Clients Avoid this Type of Situation, I Offer the Following Services
Professional services role determination– I assist executive management with the decisions around:
What are your internal strengths and experiences?
What should you do vs. what should the consultants do?
For how much can you reasonably hold consultants accountable vs. what must you retain control of?
Should you essentially outsource the project, run it yourselves and use consultants to augment your team, or some hybrid solution?
Does this consultant or consulting organization have the skills and experience you need?
Professional services acquisition and oversight– I assist executive management with:
Professional services contracting - advice on appropriate and reasonable contract terms and conditions
Oversight of consultant performance in terms of the contract, but more importantly, in terms of on-time, high quality delivery. This is not a contract management service (most organizations have a legal team and/or PMO to do this) – I help clients get their money’s worth from their consultants