Group Theory

Accenture’s Project i6

In March July 2016, the Scottish Police Authority’s (SPA) ‘Project i6, a proposed IT system intended to manage a large amount of daily-generated police data, failed to save the organization an estimated £200 million savings over ten years and was terminated. The i6 system was, on paper, relatively simple; however, IT projects can quickly expand due to scope creep, and failing to address every possible risk is something that impacts us all. SPA’s i6 was intended to be sourced from an existing consulting company as the starting point, allowing the SPA to customize the system based on their needs (Alderson, 2017).

In June 2013, Accenture was awarded the i6 contract at a fixed price of £46.11 million; however, within weeks and despite the eighteen-months of pre-award discussion, SPA and Accenture disagreed on whether the proposed system would meet all of the contract’s requirements. The negotiations that followed ultimately lead to signing a contract variation agreement and completely broke down the trust between both organizations (Alderson, 2017). Due to i6’s rather sophisticated and ambitious design, the initial thought of being able to copy an existing system was quickly dismissed, leading to Accenture frantically trying to create an entirely new system from scratch, running into delays and financial problems (Audit Scotland, 2017).

In August 2015, the i6 project was given to the SPA for testing in a fragile and unfinished state, including several flaws and errors. When SPA realized the system’s downfalls, Accenture estimated it would need another two and a half years to fix everything, delaying the go-live date to April 2018 (around four years longer than previously estimated). Due to the project’s shortcomings, SPA secured a settlement agreement of £24.65 million by Accenture refunding the £11.09 million SRA had paid them and an additional £13.56 million (Audit Scotland, 2017). While there is a long list of reasons the i6 project failed, the main points will now be discussed.

Due to technology’s significant impact on the world by connecting us all, major world events and even local occurrences certainly contribute to the success of business operations and the general satisfaction of the human experience. Poor planning, one of the primary reasons that IT projects fail, is a major player on the defensive side of trying to prevent us from accomplishing technology-related tasks. The flexibility of software, hardware, and personnel need to be adaptable to change, something that is often difficult to achieve. In i6’s case, project management failed in the early hours of the project by believing they could source most of the system’s structure from a third-party without even researching if that can actually happen. Furthermore, both SPA and Accenture failed to correctly forecast the project’s sophistication and all risks involved (Otero, 2019).

Unclear goals and objectives are also significant barriers to a project’s success. When building something from scratch or merely updating a process, clear communication on what is expected, what is required, what would be ideal, what resources are available, and the personnel involved in the project need to be clearly indicated and enforced. In the i6 project, the project’s scope quickly expanded beyond the contract, and the deliverables that were mentioned were not planned for accordingly. The third reason that the i6 project failed is misalignment, which piggybacks off of the previous unclear goals/objectives; for this reason, aspects like market shares are vital to understand when working on a sophisticated project. The communication between Accenture and SPA was undoubtedly poor, which lead to disagreements on the contract and failing to meet deadlines. Quality of interaction is also a factor, pertaining to the consensus of what quality is expected in the end results. Different people have different perceptions of what quality work is, so it is vital to align on these objectives. If the client wants a purple house, but everyone else thinks it is ugly, the client still needs a purple house. The i6 project seemed to have two definitions, one from SPA and one from Accenture; this failure of communication on the expected results is ridiculous for such a well-funded endeavor (Otero, 2019).

The fifth reason i6 failed is changing objectives. More often than not, no matter what stage a project is in, stakeholders might desire to add or remove functionality, resulting in chaos if not managed correctly. Unrealistic resource estimates are another hindrance that affected the i6 project; in this, misinterpreting resource costs and allotments can cause devastation to even the most planned projects, as inflation and the economy change as much as the direction of the wind. Failing to estimate possible resource changes can cripple project management, especially in IT. Resources, even when provided by a company you work for, are not always guaranteed to be there. Furthermore, Human capital is a vital cog in the machine of project management. Due to the inability to not often choose whom you want on a project, or due to their lack of technical or personable skills, the challenges of human resources can be challenging to manage.

The i6 project was an excellent example of what not to do in project management. SPA’s goals were not made clear to Accenture, and that failure is on both companies. Prototyping and testing a project is vital in every phase of the project; the fact that Accenture delivered the system to SPA in such a poor state indicated they were desperate to finish the project and knew they would breach the contract if they waited any longer. Believing you can merely source an IT system’s basic components from an existing product is a rookie mistake not suitable for such well-known organizations such as the SPA and Accenture. While mistakes were made in the entire i6 project from start to finish, I hope both organizations learned from their experiences (Otero, 2019).

References

Audit Scotland. (2017, March 09). Report: I6: A review. Retrieved January 25, 2021, from https://www.audit-scotland.gov.uk/report/i6-a-review.

Alderson, R. (2017, March 09). ‘Lost’ £200m in savings after police IT scheme collapses. Retrieved January 25, 2021, from https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-scotland-39208096.

Otero, A. R. (2019). Information Technology Environment and I.T. Audit. In Project Management. (Fifth ed., pp. 177-200). Boca Raton, Florida: CRS Press.

Rahim, E. (2019). How to Avoid Failure on IT Projects. Retrieved January 25, 2021, from https://soundcloud.com/emad-rahim/how-to-avoid-failure-on-it-projects.

Categories: Group Theory

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