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Seven Reasons Big Consulting Firms Fail

Davis, Schirtzinger & Associates is frequently asked to implement an ERP system after a "Big Five" consulting firm has tried and failed. Here are the seven most-common reasons the big guys fail:

1. Inability to Match Business Processes with the System
Big Five firms typically can't find the optimum match between changing business processes to suit the ERP system and modifying the system so that business processes can be retained. As time and cost squeeze the implementation, the usual path is to modify the system, and try to make it do something it can't.

2. Bait and Switch
You can count on having the best and brightest representatives from the Big Five present during sales presentations, but programming rookies will show up to do the work. Even worse, the customer is often used as a training school for untrained consultants who need experience. (see recent article about FoxMeyer Drug's lawsuit against Accenture, formerly Anderson Consulting) The effectiveness of IT and end-user training never seems to match expectations either.

3. Ignoring Internal IT skills
The skills of the IT staff need to be upgraded at the same time you are upgrading from old technology. The Big Five fail to recognize this and end up placing a significant strain on a team who are only capable of maintaining the old environment.

4. Focusing on Technology
The Big Five often take the "silver bullet" approach to ERP and claim that software alone will solve a business problem. However, there is no evidence anywhere in the history of IT that a technology approach is the best strategy.

5. "Just Let Us Handle It"
Big Five consultants want to run the project and often treat customer involvement as a nuisance. But without clear leadership from senior members of the company, an ERP project will be a disaster. Company leaders must buy in and support the project because it affects virtually all aspects of a business. This runs counter to the "go it alone" style preferred by large consulting firms.

6. Rushing System Development
Pressed to deliver systems against pre-defined timelines that don't take into account all of the necessary implementation steps, Big Five consultants often rush the process, neglecting to build a solid implementation plan and neglecting to establish consensus across the organization as to what it will take to develop and implement the solution prior to implementing the technology.

7. Using a Veil of Complexity to Increase Fees
Big Five consultants working on an open-ended, time-and-materials basis rather than for a fixed fee have an interest in quoting low on a project and seeing the work grow as the project proceeds. They benefit by placing a "veil of complexity" over their work, and then expanding the scope of a project the customer doesn't understand.

You can reach Davis, Schirtzinger & Associates by phone: 614-538-0600.




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