Trust me, I’m an IT consultant …

The IT industry is unfavourably compared to other business types including used car sales, timeshare holidays and double-glazing windows.

The alleged similarity lies in the high focus on sales and the frequency of promises made that are not delivered. Many would argue that IT wins the industry low-life award as more money has probably been spent on failed IT projects in the last year than the equivalent money in all these other industry sectors over the last decade.

An interesting development is quietly taking place in one market, the construction industry, which may make a breakthrough in customer and supplier satisfaction. In the last six months the Association of Consulting Architects has launched a new type of contract – the Project Partnering Contract 2000 (PPC 2000).

The Construction Industry Council has produced a guide to project team partnering, which contains model heads of terms for multi-partnering contracts.

This work attempts to achieve a number of objectives. Firstly, it aims to put one contract in place for all the parties involved in a project.

This includes: the client, consultants, contractors and other third party suppliers. A concept of a partnering team is created and the roles and responsibilities of the group and its members are clearly laid out.

Secondly, it tries to align the objectives of all parties, in particular to bring a project in on budget and to timescale. Incentives can be put in place for the suppliers if they achieve cost or time savings against the initial plan. Thirdly, it aims to make the all the information on a project, such as contractors own costs and profit margins, transparent to all the parties.

A brave idea and potentially a huge breakthrough in trying to form a genuine partnership rather than an adversarial relationship. Whilst this contract was drafted with the construction industry in mind much of it could apply to IT contracts.

E-business projects usually involve several parties and there is often great secrecy about product margins and the terms for the different parties.

Fundamentally of course the suppliers frequently have different objectives for the project than their clients. This sort of agreement could make a huge difference to this approach.

The contract is available via the ACA, their website is priced at #16 and so far over 5,000 copies of the contract have been sold to the construction industry to give you an idea of its growing popularity.

This is a chance perhaps for the IT sector to re-establish some credibility for their sector and who knows might even gain a few rungs up the ladder from their disreputable industry neighbours.

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