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Another IT Disaster Signed Accenture Cripples Scottish Police


Accenture led the £60m so-called “i6 Project” that was meant to unify 130 different IT systems as well as paper-based systems. The need for the integration arouse in April 2013 when the eight regional police forces in Scotland merged into one. Included in the long-planned merger were also Scottish Police Services Authority, and the Scottish Crime and Drug Enforcement Agency.

Accenture very clearly let us down
Martin Leven, director of ICT at Police Scotland

Accenture was due to set the system live in December 2015, but pushed back the deadline to the autumn of 2016. Also this new deadline was thought to be unrealistic according to The Herald Scotland. A nine-month delay on a two- or three-year project.

In July 2016, the Police authority said it had scrapped the £60m i6 project because of its insurmountable flaws.

Summit to Discuss the Disastrous Project in February 2016

Following tension and disagreement between Police Scotland and Accenture things were so bad that a summit between Police Scotland, the Scottish Police Authority, Scottish Government and Accenture was prompted and took place in mid-February 2016.

The Police Scotland told the parliament that they were looking at contingency options because they could not solve scores of faults that had emerged during testing.

According to UK Computing Magazine, police officers involved in testing the systems claimed in February 2016 that they had found 12 critical errors that made the system unusable, with 76 defects in total that required more work.

Crumbs, I wouldn’t let them fix my pipes and radiators at this rate
Member of Scottish Parliament Christine Grahame

Scottish magazine Holyrood publishes what Martin Leven, director of ICT at Police Scotland thinks of Accenture’s system: “At one point in time we ended up with 12 critical errors in the system, which actually stops you progressing through the system, and there should have been none at that time.”

Accenture said it had been thoroughly tested but the client ICT Director, told Members of Scottish Parliament (MSPs) he had “doubts as to the capability of the contractor to deliver this going forward” as they had “very clearly let us down”.

ICT Director Mr. Leven further claimed the contract award followed “one of the most thorough procurement processes ever” and the process had been managed “as well as it possibly can be”.

Mr. Leven told the sub-committee it was his:

“honest opinion… that the senior managers in Accenture, the ones that we face up against, probably were not aware of the issues until such time as we highlighted them to them”.

It is an interesting choice of word to say “the ones we face up against”. That does not give a sense of an amicable client-provider relation.

The system was made available to Police Scotland last June (2015) for user acceptance testing. i6 programme director, Chief Superintendent Hamish MacPherson, told Members of Scottish Parliament the number of defects was found to be “significantly higher than what we wanted” at this stage.

Sub-committee convener, SNP Member of Scottish Parliament Christine Grahame, said:

“Crumbs, I wouldn’t let them fix my pipes and radiators at this rate. They would tell me that they were alright and they would still have leaks.”

An Accenture spokesman put the blame on their client: “This is a very complex project. The complexity of the solution, which has been driven by the client, has increased significantly over the last two years.”

Despite everything, the client Director of ICT, Mr Leven, was ready to give Accenture one more chance back in February: “I have doubts as to the capability of the contractor to deliver this going forward.”

“The contractor will need to prove to us, as part of these negotiations, that they are completely capable of delivering this because they have very clearly let us down.”

“It is a possibility that they could retrieve our confidence depending on what they come back with.”

Apparently Accenture failed to do this.

Scottish Police Kicks out Accenture in July 2016

Following extensive discussion between the Scottish Police Authority (SPA), Police Scotland and Accenture, John Foley, Chief Executive of the SPA has issued the following statement on July 1, 2016:

“The Scottish Police Authority (SPA), Police Scotland and Accenture have mutually agreed to end their contract relating to the i6 project. The decision comes following a detailed review of the programme, led by the SPA, which considered alternative options and was supported by Accenture.”

As we have seen again and again with Accenture they fail to deliver on time and within budget, apart from the quality issues already mentioned.

It is hard to see that this would be a mutual decision, Exposing Evil Empire assumes this is a polite way to put things by the SPA (or imposed by lawyers). As Accenture is paid by the hour, delays are actually profitable to the consulting firm. Based on Accenture’s history we think this was just business as usual for Accenture but a very wise and competent project management by the Scottish Police. Kudos on kicking out Accenture.

Scottish Police Authority’s CEO Foley states: “Despite the best efforts of the SPA, Police Scotland and Accenture, it was clear that the technical solution cannot be delivered within expected timeframes and budget. The decision has therefore been taken to end the contract and reconsider options for securing a sustainable IT solution for policing.”

Mr. Foley is humble and assumes some of the responsibility:

“Management and oversight of the i6 programme was led by the SPA and underpinned by robust contract arrangements. It was also subject to regular review and assurance. The contract has been ended and a mutually agreed settlement has been signed by all parties. The terms of the agreement are commercially confidential, however we can confirm that the settlement results in no financial detriment to the police budget. While we are disappointed that i6 will not be delivered as expected, the SPA believes the decision to end the contract at this time is the right one.”

The Scottish Police is determined to learn from the experience and do a better job than Accenture could:

“We would seek to reassure the public and our workforce that the output of i6 was only one element of our overall ICT plans. In the last three years we have rolled out a number of national applications to improve and enhance our IT systems and made significant investment in modernising our desktop estate. We have not stood still while awaiting delivery of i6 and we remain committed to delivering a sustainable policing model supported by modern technology.”

“As with any programme of this nature or size, an independent review to ensure the SPA and Police Scotland learn lessons from this project will be initiated. This will inform our options for a sustainable IT solution going forward and which we would expect to see emerging in the months ahead. Work already under way to set out a vision and strategy for policing over the next decade will also heavily inform next steps.”

Labour Member of Scottish Parliament Graeme Pearson calls the project “four lost years”.

Facts of this Failure
Accenture Office:Accenture UK
Accenture Police Services
Project Type:Custom system integration
Client:Scottish Police Authority (SPA)
Police Scotland
Industry:Public Sector, Police Force
Timeline:
  • Two-year competitive tendering process starts, ca June 2011
  • Accenture was selected for a 10-year contract in ca June, 2013
  • Sub-committee meeting on failure with Scottish Government, February 2016
  • Contract terminated in July, 2016

Sources:

The Scotts Are Not the Only Police Authority to Suffer at Accenture’s Incompetent Hands

This client is not the only police force that has been seriously damaged by Accenture’s incompetence.

The Swedish Police had a similar experience with an IT system developed by Accenture around 2010. The system got massive critique from police officers. The percentage of solved crimes went down and the response time became slower.

Several Swedish police union representatives demanded that the system was to be changed due to working environment reasons.

The £8m system was not ready to be rolled out, it was user-unfriendly and there were no education available, according to Lena Nitz, chairperson at the Police Association.

A DUI case would take 30 minutes before the Accenture system but with evil empire’s IT system it takes four hours.

The then Swedish Minister of Justice initiated a review as the faults of Accenture’s system were deemed so serious that they could undermine the overall results of the Swedish Police.

Ernst & Young were contracted by the Swedish National Police Board to review the system called Siebel Pust and declared it a fiasco and “not an appropriate system for managing cases”.

It is a sad fact that the Scottish Police could have known this would happen, based on Accenture’s (“not so high”) performance for the Swedish Police just a few years earlier.

This is one of the reasons Exposing Evil Empire thinks it is so important to publish Accenture’s failures.

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If you were on any of these projects (in Scotland or in Sweden), either on the client side or at Accenture, we would love to hear your point of view in the comment section.

Update: A report from Audit Scotland has concluded that there was “no single reason” why the Police Scotland i6 computer system project failed, according to HolyRood, a Scottish current affairs magazine.

Audit Scotland says that early relationship breakdown, an overreliance on an existing IT system and the inability to test the system until a late stage all contributed to the failure of the i6 project.

One would think that as a minimum skill, an IT consulting firm should know that testing early is vital.

For us who have worked at Accenture, there is no surprise that there was an “early relationship breakdown” between the client and the Accenture Managing Directors.

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