Thursday, June 24, 2004

Influence peddling?

Well, maybe the press is noticing. The Wall Street Journal today (subscription required) is reporting on documents unearthed in the Oracle trial that call into question the independence of consulting firms in recommending software products to clients. Once again, Accenture is involved, this time in an engagement to assist Cox Communications in justifying a new financial reporting system.
In September, documents in the case show, an Oracle sales representative asked his superiors to approve a payment to Accenture "for their assistance and influence." He suggested a payment of $125,000, if Oracle signed Cox to a deal for such software of at least $1.5 million by November, or $100,000 if the deal closed by May 2004. "We need Accenture's continued support and influence to secure this win and they expect to be compensated for this help," the sales rep wrote in his request.

Chuck Phillips, Oracle's co-president, adds in an interview that "paying an influence fee is customary in the industry." If a consulting firm is "the contractor and we are the subcontractor, you have to pay to play."
Hmm..."paying an influence fee." So, would it be too much to say that some consulting firms are involved in influence peddling? Well, according to this definition, that's exactly what it is.

When choosing a consultant to help with a software selection, executives should rule out any firm that peddles its influence to software vendors.

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Consulting firm bias toward software vendors

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