Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Snake Oil

Nothing can get a bunch of geeks venting like a post titled IT Snake Oil or the story of the marketing pitches that totally failed to deliver what was promised. Some of the criticism is probably too harsh. AI has delivered a good deal even if not to the extent imagined. ERP systems have not always been bad news. It is possible to get a decent implementation in a small, mid-sized company where management is invested in doing things the right way instead of taking short cuts and employing band-aid instead of real solutions. Snake oil also comes in other forms in the IT business.

Pricey consultants will be brought in to study process and system inefficiencies and come up with a proposal that fix everything that is wrong or broke. It looks great on paper but no one knows how to give the thing some legs so it can actually walk the talk. The client gets a bunch of colorful documentation for their money, with competitor analysis and measurements against industry benchmarks thrown in for good measure.

Management has some numbers it can bandy about with confidence. The consultants leave, their proposal gathers dust after a few attempts to implement their suggestions fail. The old timers in the company say they would have told management the exact same things and for free but no one bothers to ask them. They also know that the problems are such that they cannot be solved unless you do over everything which is virtually impossible. Often they turn out to be right.

1 comment:


Its mostly because consultants present proposals that promise enterprise nirvana at the cost of the company's entire family jewels.
If only proposals are flagged like car models (VT, VVT, VVVVT, AT..) in increasing order of costs, these proposals have a chance of gaining credence.