Even best systems firms can help chart a path to failure

No one who has worked in the information technology industry for any period of time will be surprised to hear that Deloitte Consulting has exploded a budget and failed to deliver on time (“Computer woes go far beyond Mass.,” Page A1, Oct. 7). To be fair, Deloitte is not alone. Firms such as KPMG and Oracle, the biggest, most widely respected names in the industry, have all failed miserably on numerous occasions.

The problems are varied, but they usually boil down to several key factors. The first is a lack of competent staff on the client’s side, and the second is a failure to properly scope the project at the beginning. A third is turnover on the consultant’s side, which is inevitable over the course of a large, complex project.

Any organization that simply turns over a systems development project to an outside consultant expecting a successful result will either be lucky or get what they deserve. The only real solution for state governments is to mandate fixed-price, performance-based contracts. Any consulting firm that shies away is probably not one you want to work with.

Michael Keating