Shaun Snapp on IT Consulting Exaggeration and Criminal Behavior

Executive Summary

  • Consulting companies nearly always greatly exaggerate their capabilities to customers.
  • Consulting companies routinely engage in behavior which is criminal as it violates fraud statutes.

Introduction

IT consulting is normally all about sales and billing hours. Having worked on IT projects for many years, it has been extremely rare to find projects where the capabilities of the consulting company have not been greatly exaggerated by the partner level resources.

Fraud Versus Puffery

Fraud is when one misrepresents a product or service. One this is sold, and something else entirely, of lower value, is delivered. For IT consulting companies it is common to lie about the following areas.

  1. A Unique Methodology: Nearly all consulting companies state that they offer a special or unique methodology for implementation. We reviewed many consulting methodologies in the article The Real Story on IT Implementation Methodologies. Our observation was that there was nothing special about any of them and that they were primarily designed to sell IT projects.
  2. Special Resources: Exaggerating the training and expertise of resources is extremely common in IT consulting. Resources often have skills listed for which they have only a passing exposure. At one consulting company resources that had performed demos, altered their resumes to state that they had participated in full implementations for customers they had only prepared a demo. Sometimes the exaggerated skills are added by the resource themselves, and sometimes they are added by the consulting company.
  3. Pretending Public Information is Specific to a Consulting Company: IT consulting companies will often overstate the degree to which they have contributed to their area versus how much they have taken material available from published books and articles.
  4. Timelines: It is highly common for consulting companies to exaggerate the speed at which they can implement software.

Conclusion

IT consulting is filled with misrepresentations that should qualify as fraud. Many IT consulting companies engage in behavior that should be subject to not only civil but to criminal implications. Furthermore, IT consulting companies use these same fraudulent tactics and patterns against US government agencies.

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