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Carillon’s Collapse and IT Projects

   Words by Paul McQuillan

   on 24/01/2018 11:23:00

ProjectThere are many reasons for the recent collapse of Carillon that I will let better minds pore over – but one common theme that is referred to over and over appears to be the age old problem of:

  • Aggressively Chase and Win Contract A.
  • Salespeople / Managers get healthy compensation for ‘successfully’ winning Contract A – often with underbidding.
  • Use funds from Contract Win A to help service the costs of failing Contract B, typically where Contract B has itself been underbid earlier.
  • Contract B just about ticks over with the cash injection.
  • Contract A quickly falls into a falling Contract as resources have been diverted to B.
  • Aggressively Chase and Win Contract C.

I’ve seen this before in the IT Project world and often can be the ‘doom cycle’ for an otherwise successful consultancy, as more and more of the best resource has to be pulled into recovering failing projects, and lesser experienced resources are assigned into the newer projects that are performing well.

Is essentially another form of a Ponzi scheme that depends on new projects coming in from Sales to ensure previous failures or underbids can be supported.

Obviously all companies need to move resources between projects to ensure the best allocation to fit different spends and project successes or failures (and very few are saints when it comes to resourcing), and so sometimes this is unavoidable, but if your culture comes to repeat this cycle over and over then you’ve typically got a company culture problem that is difficult to overcome.

In my experience this takes a strong manager with the right vision to overcome, to keep projects allocated with the right resources at the beginning to ensure the architecture and structure is right and not allow the internal needs of a company to start defining the way projects are managed.

This takes Leadership and not just needs-must Management, and that can be tricky in some larger corporate cultures. (it does take a strong leader to stand up to daily pressures of shareprices and balance sheets after all)

But, we do see in Carillon how this approach if not tackled can create a minor nightmare – keeping the cycle going as long as possible, and then collapsed projects and orphaned contracts.

This is less of a problem in the SME world where most companies are far from ‘too big to fail’ and so typically accept and address their problems rather than trying to bury them in this kind of loop – but similar principles can apply to us all and so be one to watch.

And if you find that the resources on your project seem quite lost and not prepared, and then miraculously get better only after concerns and then complaints are raised, then it might be time to take a deeper look at your provider.

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