Accenture and Police Scotland have knocked a multimillion-pound transformational IT project on the head, which an analyst has said – together with Brexit uncertainty – might put off other public sector organisations from investing in similar IT plans.
Three years ago, Police Scotland selected Accenture to develop and maintain its i6 project, a new policing system for Scotland which the duo claimed would support "new standardised national policing processes and daily policing operations and investigations".
The project was expected to run for 10 years, with potential for a two-year extension, and it was due to be worth £40m, the Scottish Police Authority (SPA) confirmed to CRN.
In a statement, the SPA said Police Scotland and Accenture "mutually agreed" to halt the contract, following a "detailed review of the programme" carried out by the SPA.
"The decision has therefore been taken to end the contract and reconsider options for securing a sustainable IT solution for policing," the SPA said in a statement.
An undisclosed settlement has been signed by all parties and although the terms remain confidential, the SPA said it has no financial detriment to the police budget.
The i6 project was hit with a number of issues in its early days. In a sub-committee on policing in February, it was claimed that in July 2013, "differences emerged between Police Scotland and Accenture on exactly what the i6 contract required the supplier to deliver". Further problems emerged and by December 2015, Police Scotland "reported further difficulties" with the programme and "a higher than expected number of defects", leading to the "delivery date becoming untenable".
Analyst TechMarketView's Georgina O'Toole described the news as a blow to Accenture and said it could have a wider industry impact.
"Unfortunately, we expect this high-profile failure to impact the willingness of other UK police forces to embark on large-scale digital transformation initiatives," she said.
Public sector reseller Imerja's managing director Ian Jackson (pictured) told CRN that this could be an opportunity for smaller firms.
"This is a large transformational project [failure] and we have not seen it for a while now," he said. "It reinforces the need for the public sector to look beyond the large systems integrators and look at the smaller, more flexible, more agile SMB service providers that are in the SME space. Thankfully, we've not seen a failure like this for some time. I firmly believe that it wouldn't have resulted in the failure it did if it had been delivered by a smaller, more agile service provider.
"You could argue you don't hear about large deals run by SMBs going wrong because: one – they don't get the opportunity to bid on them; or two – they don't fail. Which one is it? I don't know. I am not worried about public sector organisations withholding budgets on transformational deals. I don't think they are going to regress into not doing them. They just need to look at their approach, have faith in the SME space and look at carving up the opportunities."
Richard Blandford, founder of Fordway, agreed and said there is often a mismatch between what the customer wants and what the supplier can offer. He said careful consideration in the tender process can avoid similar problems to those faced by Accenture and Police Scotland.
"I'm certain there are misaligned expectations between the customer and the supplier."
"Customers have the right aspirations – but they need to much better define what they want and work much more closely with suppliers to define what they want and the outcome [of the project]," he told CRN.
"What you see is, a customer goes into an outsourcing agreement expecting to have a wonderful new world where everything is going to change, then they put it out to a competitive tender and it tends to [go to] those with the biggest reputation who can't do it very well, or the cheapest, who bids low to win but then there's not enough money to make it happen.
"Instead of going to one big supplier, they need to work out what they want. I'm certain there are misaligned expectations between the customer and the supplier. Somewhere along the way, the truth comes out on both sides."
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