Management Consultants - Friends or Foe?

Posted by Kevin Brady on Sun 9th July 2006 at 08:51 AM, Filed in Project /Programme Failures

Whilst chomping through my Mac Donald’s breakfast (mmmm ?) and working my way through the Daily Mail newspaper I read an article entitled “The Best Ever…for management consultants”. The article was a rant about the fact that the NHS spent an estimated £1 billion on Management Consultants last year, and that Dr Paul Miller, leader of Britain’s hospitital doctors (Chairman of the British Medical Association Consultants Committee), mocked Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt’s recent boast that the HNS has had its best year ever.

He rightly stated “This has been the NHS’s best year ever….for management consultants…for losing staff…for wasting money,’ Dr Miller, (one of the “Great & The Good” or a “Jedi” as I like to call them), spoke out against the ‘dark-side’ of the IT Industry (the “money machine” management consultants).

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Brave man!!

Dr Miller stated at the BMA’s annual consultants conference recently “that management consultants charged the public sector an estimated £3 billion in 2005”. He then went on to say “that it was hard to avoid the conclusion that we are working in a service which is being broken by policies which don’t work, devised by officials who have resigned, implemented by managers who don’t believe, on staff in disbelief and patients without a say. “Hear Hear” in my view.

Following this, I read another Daily Mail article, followed up by the Nick Ferrari LBC Breakfast Show, that the wages NHS staffs have received over the past 10 years have far exceeded inflation /pay rises given in the Private Sector, whilst at the same time the service is recording the lowest productivity rates in NHS history. What are these consultants doing if they are participating or helping to perpetuate an organisation where the tax payer spends more for less? PLAIN NUTTS!

The problem with recanting such articles which are frequently in the press, is the fact that I can hear my readership saying “Ok but that’s the public sector” “the government is crap, it’s them who are the problem” ” this is localised”. If you believe that you are living in “Flat Land”, and you are thinking exactly the way the money machines want you to! Remember, the “Dark side” rules through misinformation, corruption and leading the naïve and uninformed. If you are a CTO then they will be phoning you soon if they aren’t already sitting next to you right now (Ha Ha you’ve just been Tangoed)”.

If you really want to get a perspective on how the Money Machines make their money and avoid litigation and bad publicity whilst providing little or nothing to show for their huge fees then I suggest you read “Rip Off” a wonderful and brave book written by “David Craid” (assumed name). I know David’s real name, and fully understand his reluctance to want it to be made public, for the same reasons why Dr Miller should be worried. He is in my view a Jedi who has had to reluctantly “dance with the Dark Side” but has now helped the world to better understand the murky world of Money Machine Management Consulting. The lesson hear is what my father used to say “if you want to get the best treatment out of your doctor, we all have to be a little our own doctor”. As a CTO /CIO or IT director, understanding the negative business aspects of the Money Machines must give you a better chance of getting value for money services from these guys. “Fore warned is always forearmed”.

If you’re a CTO reading this article and want to collect your share options and terminal bonus then you need to read this book before embarking on the next major IT project, change programme or business process re-engineering exercise.

Remember, these guys should be handled in the same way as Porcupines Make Love – CAREFULLY.

Be especially worried when they use the words Partnership /Independent and Impartial Advice /Outsourcing /Offshoring. The reason for this is that whilst they are saying these words to you and your fellow board room colleagues (yes let them in and they get everyone in the fold) their mantra back at their plush offices is “GROW THE BUSINESS”. It is rare to hear the words quality, integrity, efficiency of service, professionalism unless part of a sales presentation to YOU. In fact, I have seen good chums of mine in the past sacked for talking too much in-house about these subjects (Negative Waves) and displaying too much of a genuine duty of care /loyalty to the client. STRANGE BUT TRUE.

I am writing to the publisher of “Rip Off” this week to see if I can get an interview with David. Keep you posted on my progress.
“Live long and prosper”

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