For the love of money: Scottish ‘spend to save’ plan fails

Investment decisions on business transformation projects are tough, often demanding a huge leap of faith and a crystal ball to predict the future. Unfortunately, even when these projects fail, external consultants can still walk away with a big pile of cash.

As Inverclyde, one of the smallest district authorities in Scotland, has painfully learned, no organization is immune to risks associated with technology-enabled business transformation projects. After their project backfired, Inverclyde suspended senior managers in the following roles, according to local newspaper, the Evening Times:

  • Corporate Director of Organisational Improvement and Resources at Inverclyde Council
  • Head of Safer and Inclusive Communities
  • Head of Customer Service and Business Transformation
  • Head of IT project management

In February 2009, the Evening Times says, these folks announced a program called Future Operating Mode, intended to save £6.43 million ($10.6 dollars) over three years. Instead of creating savings, however, the plan flopped:

[C]ost the council £650,000 ($1.1 million dollars) in fees to consultants PricewaterhouseCoopers, and delivered only £250,000 ($413,000 dollars) in savings, far short of the expected £2m target.

While I don’t know the details, and there’s always two sides to every story, something sure seems wrong when a project fails and external consultants walk away with over a million dollars in fees.

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Well-known expert on why IT projects fail, CEO of Asuret, a Brookline, MA consultancy that uses specialized tools to measure and detect potential vulnerabilities in projects, programs, and initiatives. Also a popular and prolific blogger, writing the IT Project Failures blog for ZDNet.