Back in June when the case was first filed, Michael Krigsman, columnist for ZDNet, called Marin County’s suit against Deloitte a “game changer,” one “that has the potential to reshape important aspects of the systems integration business…The lawsuit alleges that Deloitte committed fraud and “misrepresented its skills and experience.” ”
Same old, same old.
But the world has changed and I did hint at that. Post-financial crisis, in the midst of both private and public financial failures, there’s a very large appetite, more than ever before, to point fingers at someone, anyone. In the Marin County case the squandered dollars belong to seriously beleaguered California taxpayers. The lawsuit is a “Hail Mary pass”.
Who dares to call a spade a spade and accuse a Big 4 of fraud for the “bait and switch” of putting junior folks on a big SAP engagement when you promised experienced ones?
Municipalities hungry for cash, that’s who.
And then I gave the lawyers somewhere to look for bad faith on the part of Deloitte:
Maybe the plaintiff’s lawyers for Marin County should take a closer look at the billing. What you said you’d do and what you did always shows up in the timesheets and the billing. And when it doesn’t or when it’s fudged, especially in a public sector case, it’s a really ugly problem.
Marin County has now decided to rip out, “the County’s SAP system, since it is not completely functional and has not been implemented in all areas originally planned.”
Krigsman asked me for my thoughts as he was writing an update to his earlier column. I read the Assessment of Marin County Software report prepared by their Information Systems and Technology department.
I had a few thoughts to share:
“Even though the study says it a number of times, I think they’re ignoring in their conclusion and their cost estimates the cost of “implementation fatigue.” They’ve got significantly less staff and want to implement software that is supposedly much richer functionally. (SAP has extensive government functionality. Not sure why they are making such a huge distinction between the alternative packages and SAP.)
Even an industry team that has all the resources you need will get tired after 3, 4, 5 years of constant project work. I remember the government projects in my early years at KPMG Consulting. Every time we thought we were getting near the finish line, something would cause a delay or a rework – typically client driven – and we would be put back six months. New versions show up, of course, when a project goes on for years. If you don’t get in and out in a reasonable amount of time, you end up chasing your tail.
SAP now has more functionality than they did when Marin County bought it – inevitable – and no one at the County really wants to start over. Why is cost, an imprecise estimate at his point if it can ever be a precise estimate – the driving force?If this was my problem, I’d hire a swat team to prioritize the most critical functionality and pay them to blitz 80% of the fixes in six months.”