Profits warning after systems collapses.

The company, which describes itself as ‘one of the world’s leading providers of professional, technologically-based consultancy and support services’ issued a profits warning last week.

The warning resulted in its former finance director, Ric Piper having the door slammed in his face at his new employer’s, Trinity Mirror. The problems with the computer system meant Piper was late in invoicing £25m of work.

‘We are owed £20 to 30m by clients, so the bills have not been paid,’ said a spokeswoman at WS Atkins. ‘We knew this was the situation and have taken action to recover the money.’

Brian Burke, vice-president international, executive services at Meta Group, said projects of such magnitude often fail because they are not managed carefully enough. Managing such a major project internally highlights the dilemma companies face of whether to outsource or not. ‘Outsourcers have a higher level of maturity in this area. A lot of projects now are fixed cost, so they have to be carefully managed. This forces project management discipline. With internally managed projects that issue is looser,’ said Burke.

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