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Hertz sued Accenture for failing a $32M “digital transformation” project (twitter.com)
153 points by fanf2 on Apr 26, 2019 | hide | past | favorite | 44 comments



Here is my summary of the mistakes Hertz made: - hired the vendor based on a cool demo & vendor size - did not have a Hertz employee as Product Owner - tried to go big fast instead of taking an iterative approach - did not implement proper tests & validation - spent $10M without building internal skills

Disclaimer: I am totally bias here as I am consultant and our business model is to help our customers with their digital transformation while teaching them devops and cloud technology.

$10M for a project of this size and importance does not seem unreasonable to me. The big mistake is that they didn't seem to have a plan to take ownership of the project and learn the skills required to carry the project forward without Accenture.


Having been involved in a very similar project I think the mistakes would be on both sides.

"hired the vendor based on a cool demo & vendor size" It is common that companies don't chose the right people to assess vendors and review the suggested approach. Often the consultancy sends in sales teams to pitch to the boardroom with demos and "we're Big Company X and know what we're doing". However it seems that Hertz knew enough to ask for specific functionality that didn't get delivered.

"did not have a Hertz employee as Product Owner" Part of leading a project is making sure that your client, internal or external, is properly educated and involved in necessary decisions. Accenture shouldn't have accepted the PO role as it is a conflict of interest.

"tried to go big fast instead of taking an iterative approach" I don't recall reading if this was Hertz's decision, it could well have been Accenture's suggestion and in the early stages of this relationship Hertz would have trusted their "expert" recommendation.

"did not implement proper tests & validation" This would have been Accenture's responsibilty.

"spent $10M without building internal skills" It was $33M and you're right, although we don't know what skills they built internally. They might have been better off building a team internally but often companies prefer to hire "expert" as it's often easier from a cost centre and administrative view.


Reminds me of this comment on the bulshitter article that hit HN yesterday:

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=19749477

Specifically: "Your customers are idiots, that's why they hired "experts." They don't know how to judge expertise (otherwise they wouldn't be hiring you). They hire based on emotions, recommendations and epaulettes because that's the best they can do."


This sums up the situation perfectly.


I agree both Hertz and Accenture share some responsibility here. I didn't mean to blame it all on Hertz.

"They might have been better off building a team internally". For a business critical projects, building the team internally and using the right partner is the way to go imho... if budget allows, which they had plenty.


Are you blaming the victim?


A close family member works for Accenture. Don't think I've ever seen them complete a project successfully...


Having worked with Accenture on a number of projects, big and small, and for several different industries, I can agree 100%. It might have been a difference in approach, but I always found them to be more focused on following a process than actually achieving results. "But we need to complete these three forms and go through this workflow first, then we can actually install the software".


That's how a lot of these consultancies scale. The up or out policy means they need to hire a lot of young consultants to build out the ranks. Training and aligning that number of people is hard so they go for a cookie-cutter approach.

All their standardised templates and processes mean that the Accenture 'experience' for clients is consistent but it does seem to reduce the capacity for creativity and flexibility in approach.


You get a consistent McDonalds hamburger, not a restaurant quality juicy lucy burger.


I don't think it's even that tbh - I mean, they are hardly standard in anything.

Their business works because they realise the world is big, so they focus on sales. They are amazing at selling their rubbish to anyone and everyone and know how to rack up billable hours. If a project succeeds (prob because it's easy), then great! If it fails, then move on to the next victim.

Also, the truth is that a vast number of very senior people are non-technical, which is why they get taken in by the machine-learning/AI/blockchain BS the consultancies have been spouting for the last few years. Once they get their foot in the door, they'll convince many a CEO to purchase their magic beans.


Similar experience. The good people I worked with at Accenture where only there as the company they worked for got acquired by Accenture, those same people didn’t stay long working under Accenture before moving on elsewhere.

Generally on projects I’ve been on with Accenture involved they use their size to push through what they want and how they want to do things regardless of everyone else. One thing they do well is talking to the stakeholders, it’s all sales at the end of the day.


Is this because of the CMM (Capability Maturity Model)? And therefore the outcome/output/result is knowing that a process was followed, not that the process leads to achieving desired financial or behavioral outcomes?


Disclaimer: I work for an Accenture subsidiary.

First, just in point of fact, I have personally been part of lots of successful deliveries.

Both Facebook and Google spent $1 billion with Accenture last year.

Like all large IT consultancies, they're defined by normal distribution - they have high and low performers, pockets of competence and incompetence, big wins and big misses.


I hired Accenture while I was an MD at an investment bank for a data migration project. I was convinced by another MD who used to work for Accenture.

Anyway, we spent about £15m over a year, with literally no results to show for it. I was less than impressed - in fact, I was furious at the gross misrepresentation of the status of the project by the partner.

My own experience leads me to believe that the distribution of talent is most certainly non-normal - perhaps skew-normal, with most of the weight in the less-competent zone.


For what Accenture (and probably other similar companies) delivers, for given price point, i don't get how they are still in business. Results are always super costly, and often meh or okayish at best.

The variability of quality of people is simply too big and this is completely on Accenture's side. Yes some locations provide reliably good quality, but Accenture doesn't have the same standards for hiring across the globe.

Seen first hand, couple of years ago batch of folks from central/east europe was hired for long term cooperation, out of 20 maybe 2-3 were worth their salt. For rest, firing them on spot would be more time-saving than baby-sitting extremely junior clueless unmotivated crowd.


Can you tell us, in general terms, some projects that were successful engagement with Accenture?


Sure. I work in data and AI, so I'll focus on those as I know them best.

We stood up and currently manage the trading platform, integration layer, data lake and analytics infrastructure, event messaging, on-demand machine learning compute provisioning and model management, API middleware, front end web app, and about 500 various service touchpoints therein of the largest oil and gas upstream finance trading desk in the world.

We've developed a ton of standard demand planning and SKU-level pricing forecasting pipelines, ingest, storage, processing, model training and deployment, and consumption. In some ways that's our bread and butter as you can re-use 75-85% of the IP and focus a lot of energy on feature engineering and edge cases.

We do a ton of IoT work in the mining and energy industries. Mostly (again) developing the infrastructure to ingest and process that data, building ML models to predict anomalies, production trends, workflow to connect that to SAP or some other ERP system for work orders, remote operating center dashboards, etc.

We do a lot of HSE initiatives. One cool one we did recently was use some Zebra beacons and some computer vision to identify people entering dynamic "red flag" geofences (think mobile equipment, forklifts, cranes, wrecking balls, etc.) on field sites so we can instantly stop work.

Anyway, I'm the first to admit Accenture's a mixed bag, but one thing I've learned since coming to work (under/for) them is large-scale delivery is very, very, very hard to 1) scope, 2) de-risk, and 3) price.


They're handy for doing the dirty work for other companies. FB content moderation, for instance, which carries a mental health and suicide risk that FB would rather not bear.


Yeah, that's probably true. My family member is often billed as a "senior python engineer" at 2k GBP per day, yet they've only been using python for 6 months, have no programming background, and are just not very technical. I've seen a few of their solutions, and terrible would be an understatement.

They're simply ripping people off, and I don't understand why people keep giving them business.


How much? £2k/day?


Yes - crazy, isn't it?!


What was the name of this consultancy and are they hiring???


I doubt the family member is pulling in 2k a day. That's what accenture is billing him for.


I don't think here 2k per day is that much cause a person is making them money only 20% of his time... Rest weekends vacations bench time training all of it so they make on average 120k per employee amd they got their overheads too so 60k is kind of fair. Its not that I support them at all. I am annoyed. They overwork me as an employee and deny to pay more than 9 hours. Its a not the best place for an employee


Correct, they're on under 60k for the year.


Accenture - I'm the OP at the top of this thread, still referring to the same family member!


That work is harrowing, but doesn't seem particularly technical. Couldn't a Mechanical Turk-style service suffice for that? FB treats content moderation as a cost centre, so why would they want to pay Accenture-level fees for that work?


Lots of IT leaders specifically hire firms like Accenture, PwC, etc, to take the fall if their in-house ideas don't pan out.


Yep and scapegoats are costly.


They might not be completed on time and on budget for the client, but I'm sure their delivery timing and over budgeted-ness is still considered a success(ful project internally) at Accenture!




As a consultant myself (not Accenture) I chuckled over the difference in titles between the two articles - "digital transformation" vs "website redesign".


Me too I am working for them... My advise, Don't work with them... They lie a lot and internally its the atmosphere is not the very healthy... Everyone is trying to control every tiny detail... They don't pay well, you work 14 hours and they pay max 9... & thats in europe imagine in the asia


I worked closely with Accenture for a few years. They are not a development company. They outsource the development work and get huge margins on these kinds of projects by paying cheap wages to developing countries. They are an extremely expensive middle man. They sell people on their "process" (agile, etc) but those of us on HN know how much that's really worth (hint: not $33M).



At first i thought the full story was one paragraph, but then realized it was a paywall.


I can't say that I am surprised... Accenture is terrible.


If you've visited Japan since 2007., Accenture has your fingerprints.


I'm interested in what you are referring to, and but can't find a reference.

I suppose these two articles show a tenuous link, but do you have a specific article you can cite?

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-japan-fingerprinting/japa...

https://www.accenture.com/t20180419T122514Z__w__/us-en/_acnm...



The full text of the lawsuit is located here: https://regmedia.co.uk/2019/04/23/hertz-accenture-website.pd...


wasn't this posted few days ago? or this a promotion for threadreader




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