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Ireland Constant team changes by consultants in IT projects are ‘unacceptable' according to new research

October 08, 2008
  • 58% of companies interviewed experience team changes of three or more throughout the duration of projects
  • 33% of companies interviewed are thinking of putting legal paragraphs in contracts to limit or control the number of team changes

Fujitsu Services, one of Europe's leading IT services companies, has found from recent research that team changes, however small, within outsourced IT consultancy projects can equate to a “loss of confidence” by the customer. The situation is so serious that ⅓ of companies interviewed are thinking of putting legal terms into contracts to limit or control the number of team changes.

Rob Devlen, head of business consulting at Fujitsu Services said: “IT consultancies will have to begin showing initiative in this direction and start incorporating team change guarantees into the contracts before they become mandated by customers. Any team changes that need to be made will need to be managed more carefully. Currently, 58% of companies interviewed, experience team changes of three or more throughout the duration of the project, with 4% of projects experiencing over 10 team changes.”

The issue with team changes on an IT project is to do with the impact that the team change has on the overal success of the project as well as the team dynamics and overall relationship with the client. One specific way to understand this is by looking at the way in which the company is structured and, by association, its project teams.

Devlen continues: “A ‘pyramid style structure' (see diagram below), with increasing numbers of resources as you move down and through the grades, can lead to more detrimental team changes. For example a project structure with two senior consultants and four junior consutlants would mean that if one senior consultant was moved onto a different project this would lead to greater instability and uncertainty with regard to direction for the junior members. On the other hand if a consultancy has a model that resembles a kite (i.e. the bulk of the consultant base is highly experienced) there tends to be less of an impact on the project team if one of five senior consultants is moved on. There still remains the similar high level contact with the client and the work can be easily shared among the reminaing consultants so the client does not see any dip in project output.”

Pyramid diagram

It should be in the IT consultancies best interest to keep the customer on side but this is not always the case, with this in mind Fujitsu has developed the Top Five points to look out for when a company is looking to engage an IT consultancy:

  1. What is the shape of your consultancy's team structure?
    Pyramid = team changes will have a significant impact
    Kite = team changes will have less impact
  2. Confirm the level of senior management involvement there will be during the project's duration.
  3. What checks does the consultancy use to ensure delivery is being achieved?
  4. Is there is a cultural fit between you and the consultancy?
  5. Does the consultancy have clear and defined approaches and methods for undertaking the work?

Ian Parkes, director, Coleman Parkes Research said: “There is some good news in all this, 24% of companies interviewed already set the number of team changes in the contract – but compared to the rest of the industry this is still too small a number and it highlights that there are still many areas that need addressing to ensure a smoothly run IT change project using an IT consultancy company”

About research

Coleman Parkes Research conducted the research on behalf of Fujitsu Services. The research took place in May 2008 and consisted of 50 detailed telephone interviews within large, blue chip UK organisations. Interviews were conducted at CXO levels. The full report is available on request.

About Fujitsu Services

Fujitsu Services is a leading European information technology services company. Its business is helping its customers realise the value of information technology through the application of consulting, systems integration and managed service contracts. It serves customers in the private and public sectors across Europe including retail, financial services, healthcare and government. With an annual turnover of £2.56 billion (€3.22 billion), it employs over 21,000 people across 20 countries. Headquartered in London, Fujitsu Services is the European IT services arm of the US$53 billion (€32.9 billion) Fujitsu Group. Visit pt.fujitsu.com or uk.fujitsu.com for more information.

Graham Goulden

Phone: Phone: + 44 (0) 870 234 9568
E-mail: E-mail: graham.goulden@uk.fujitsu.com
Company:Fujitsu Services

Alistair Kent

Phone: Phone: + 44 (0) 20 8564 6322
E-mail: E-mail: teamfujitsu@harvard.co.uk
Company:Harvard PR

Date: 08 October, 2008