Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu has opened a solution centre in the Sydney CBD in the hope of attracting new enterprise customers keen to try out a new method of managing the implementation of IT projects.
The Deloitte Touche Solution Centre provides companies with the ability to manage the design, customisation and implementation of IT solutions in a controlled environment. The centre includes a server room to house the clients' servers, secure project rooms and sales rooms, and is housed in close proximity to Deloitte's own technical staff to create a collaborative working environment.
The solution centre gives Deloitte an opportunity to profit from reseller agreements with enterprise-level software vendors that centre on projects like enterprise resource planning (ERP) and customer relationship management (CRM). Vendors currently involved include Navision, JD Edwards, Siebel, Hyperion, Saleslogix, Brio Technology and Keystone. Jeremy Bolt, partner at Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu, said vendors are encouraged to visit the clients to aid the implementation.
"Traditionally, an IT implementation takes place on the client side in a temporary facility, relying on the resources of staff that are still trying to do their normal jobs," said Bolt. "Here we bring the clients into our own space and network them directly to the server and project tools. It's purpose built for project management."
Bolt said the professional services firm had recognised a need in the market for risk-managed implementations with rapid implementation times. The Sydney centre is modelled on a success story in Canada, where there are now nine solution centres which offer clients fixed-cost implementations on their projects. Bolt claims the Canadian centres have provided clients with 40-50 per cent reductions in implementation times, and initial trials in Australia recorded a 30 per cent time reduction.
Bolt said the Sydney centre will not be able to offer clients fixed-cost implementations until the centre has a track record of success that gives all involved the necessary level of confidence to set fixed costs.
"I hope it happens sooner rather than later," he said. "But we first need good relationships with the vendors involved, or else the fixed-cost implementation is a big risk. Even now, you're held to your estimate anyway."
Bolt said consultants like Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu need to look at new ways of assuring customers that projects such as ERP solutions can be implemented on time and on budget.
"The complexity of projects is increasing, and implementation times are remaining static," he said. "The biggest challenge for us is managing client expectations. Vendors with salespeople that sell on a commission basis often over-promise to get the sale, and then throw it over their shoulder to the next guy for implementation."
Bolt said Deloitte will pull teams from software vendor partners and other integrators who build infrastructure support for applications when it cannot solve a client's problem alone. "We don't do all the work, we have vendor relationships and third parties to assist," he said.
Bolt also mentioned the firm is considering the use of offshore development partners. Future projects may involve the designing and planning of projects in the solution centre, with implementation taking place in the various development houses in countries like India which offer competitive rates.