The role of third-party consultants on IT projects is tricky. On one hand, they bring valuable expertise and specialized knowledge that many organizations can't afford to hire as full-time employees. At the same time, some consultants are disruptive, following their own agenda instead of doing what's right for the client.
Look at this story from a blog in which someone chronicles his company's ongoing enterprise software implementation:
At the beginning, we were quoted a set number of days consultancy work to do the implementation (370). In fact we are now well over 800 days, there are another 65 booked for the next 10 weeks, plus, it seems clear that we are still no closer to go-live than we were 5/6 months ago and we will need yet more people. In addition, during the work over the last 2 years, they keep insisting that certain things were not part of the "original blueprint" and that these items are part of a "second phase" of work. Well we certainly never agreed to any such "second phase". I was told by the project manager quite confidently that we should expect to budget for at least another 70 - 100 days of consultancy work each year for the next 5 years.
Now, read the anonymous author's tale of his consultants' arrogant attitude:
Basically, the consultants are really arrogant - they arrive and expect everyone else to be immediately available. It doesn't matter that we have a business to run, or that they haven't arrange the meeting; we have to be there. If we ask them to do something tho it's a different matter. They can take as long as they like, and if we dare to question why it takes so long, it becomes a real issue.
One of my guys has been involved in loading data from the other systems. He took a day off to take his little girl to hospital as she had taken a fall and needed some attention (she was OK later, but stayed in the hospital for a couple of days). The consultant project manager actually phond him on his cell phone and demanded that he come back to work as they were trying to resolve an issue with purchasing records. He wasn't happy when I explained to him that if he ever does that again, he will have the cell phone lodged in his lower colon.
That's why I call relations between consultants, clients, and technology vendors the IT Devil's Triangle.
Do your consultants act like kings and queens, sitting on their throne while expecting you to bow down? Let us know.
[Photo of Queen Elizabeth II 1953 coronation via Wired.]