Shaun Snapp on The Criminal Nature of Consulting Firm Software Selection

Executive Summary

  • Consulting companies nearly always rig software selections so that the vendor they make money from wins.
  • As this is fraud on the part of the consulting firm, it is by its nature criminal.

Introduction

IT consulting is normally all about sales and billing hours. The best way to maximize billing hours is to get clients to implement the most complicated and expensive applications. To do this, consulting companies pretend to be independent software vendors, which ultimately leads them to be selected.

Rigging RFPs

An RFP is how requirements are documented to know what is needed when evaluating different vendors. However, as explained in the book How to Rig an RFP to Maximize Billing Hours consulting companies normally do not allow customers to select from vendors that are the best match for the requirements. This is because it would be detrimental to billing hours. Therefore, the RFP must be rigged so that the software selection results in the “right answer,” the right answer is implementing the software that the consulting company has resources it can bill for. This is known in the industry and considered entirely normal. The consulting company engages in fraud when they declare to their client that they will help them select the best vendor for their requirements. What they mean is they will select the best vendor for the consulting company.

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. Software selection fraud is just one of the many areas by which IT consulting firms routinely defraud their clients. The consulting companies do a double disservice to their clients because even after they leave, the customer is stuck with software which was normally selected only because of the needs of the consulting company. Consulting companies walk out of clients all the time, and perpetuate the same fraudulent tactics on their next clients. Having worked in IT consulting for decades and with many different firms (as an employee, as a sub-contractor, as just another consultant reporting directly to the end client) there is not one of the consulting companies that we would trust to do a software selection. IT consulting companies are dedicated to doing what they can to get the most out of the software selection for themselves while leaving the least benefit for their clients.

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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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Shaun Snapp on Criminal Inflation of Revenue Prior to IPO

Executive Summary

  • It is common for software vendors to inflate their revenues and profits just prior to an IPO.
  • Learn why in many cases this can qualify as criminal intent.

Introduction

When software vendors are about to make an initial public offering, they will in many cases cook the books to make the revenues look as good as possible. The crime to be committed is fraud.

How Do Companies Artificially Inflate Revenues and Profits?

There are many tricks to revenue inflation.

  1. Push Off Expenses: It is very common for companies to push expenses until after the IPO. This makes the company look more profitable than it is. They do this knowing that they will incur those expenses later. Furthermore, some of those expenses may be necessary to be incurred pre-IPO, and pushing them after the IPO can have negative implications for operations.
  2. Bring Forward Deals: Deals can be brought forward, depriving post-IPO timeline of those deals. This is quite common.
  3. Push Harder for Short Term Bad Deals: Software companies can lower their standards of sale, which will increase sales…in the short term, but which will reduce the long-term viability of the implementations.
  4. Push the Sale Force Harder: This also has the consequence of increasing short-term sales before the IPO, but can cause long-term damage to sales as more experience salespeople leave post IPO, making it more difficult for the company to meet its long-term sales increases.
  5. Not Pay Out Sales Compensation that Was Agreed To: The incentives to bait and switch on sales compensation pre-IPO can be tempting. The reason being that salespeople take a high percentage of their income in bonus. And bonus plan can be altered while the salesperson is working, which is different than what was agreed to in the sales compensation plan originally. In extreme cases salespeople with a large amount of money due can be fired, to keep from paying bonuses, keeping more cash in the company, and again inflating actual revenues.

Conclusion

Software vendors employ a variety of tactics to inflate revenues and profits prior to an IPO. Some of the tactics are unethical, but others are illegal and fall into the category of investment fraud, and are therefore criminal in nature.

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Shaun Snapp on Criminal Behavior of Software Vendors

Executive Summary

  • It is common for software to provide false information to customers.
  • Learn why in many cases this can qualify as criminal intent.

Introduction

Software vendors normally present themselves as providing information about their software. However, many software vendors lie so extensively about their applications that is provides an entirely false impression as to what the software can do. The crime to be committed is fraud.

It is curious how infrequently the term fraud is used in software, but it should be used quite frequently. If a company that manufacturers refrigerators lie about what the refrigerator can do, that is very easily called fraud. But because software tends to be more esoteric, it is infrequent for the term fraud to be used, even when it fraud and therefore criminal. In analyzing statements by vendors we repeatedly find false statements contained in marketing documentation. It is considered very normal in the software industry to mislead customers, and in the past when we have supported sales efforts when we have pushed back on false statements, we have often been accused of doing things that would “lose the account.” In the head of a sales pursuit entirely false statements are justified on the basis of attaining the sale. The truth or falsehood of a statement often falls to the wayside.

Conclusion

The false statements made by many software vendors qualify as fraud and therefore is in fact criminal. Yet it is virtually unheard of for criminal investigations to be opened against software vendors by the government. Even in cases where customers have been completely lied to, the most the software vendor will face is a civil suit and no criminal implications.

Software vendors operate in an unregulated market. Many vendors feel, and are accurate in feeling, that they are immune from the repercussions of providing false information to customers. This is because we do not define fraudulent information as criminal if it is part of the process of selling software.

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  • Questions About This Area?

    The software space is controlled by vendors, consulting firms and IT analysts who often provide self-serving and incorrect advice at the top rates.

    • We have a better track record of being correct than any of the well-known brands.
    • If this type of accuracy interests you, tell us your question below.