SJK Consulting
Making IT Happen
Making IT Happen
IT Strategy and Planning
Program Governance
ProServices Oversight

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  

Major Issues

  • 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

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