18 February 2008

Accenture consultants in 'idle' mode

ACCENTURE consultants are sitting idle in the lead-up to Christmas, following a decline in the company's workload on Telstra's $11 billion technology transformation program.
Accenture is one of two major systems integration partners for billing and customer systems projects, alongside fellow computer services player IBM Australia.
A source close to the transformation program said the consultants had been "benched" or left idle after a downturn in the firm's work with Telstra. This was in part attributed to reduced capital spending.
Up to 200 consultants were "on the bench", engaged in training while waiting for bookable work, the source said.
A spokesman for Accenture confirmed that some employees had been taken off Telstra projects, but declined to comment on the specific contracts that the company had with Telstra.
"Accenture and Telstra are continuing to work together in many areas of the transformation, as outlined at Telstra's recent investor day," the spokesman wrote in an emailed response.
"While we are rolling some people off the project, this is to be expected on large transformation projects and these resources will be used on other Accenture business."
The spokesman declined to discuss the number of Accenture consultants affected by the move.
A Telstra spokeswoman denied there had been cutbacks to its contracts and said that net spending with Accenture was on the rise.
"As with any contract with Telstra, Accenture is managing its staff profile to reflect the peaks and troughs in the work, and the various skills requirements," the spokeswoman said.
"For example, we've just delivered the 'in production' phase of our IT transformation, where the peak work activity for Accenture involved program testing."
Accenture has been working on Telstra's technology transformation since 2005, when it was commissioned to carry out a review of the telco's information systems and networks ahead of the planned project.
The systems integrator quickly struck controversy, however, when it was awarded a contract to revamp one Telstra billing system as part of a consortium that also featured Siebel and Kenan.
Accenture had run the selection process that ultimately anointed the winning consortium.
Telstra's billing and customer systems are being upgraded under a two-stage process that is due to be completed by the end of next year and will slash the number of software platforms used to run the carrier.
Phase one of the billing and customer systems upgrade was completed in October, but Telstra is reportedly tweaking the new applications under a reform program that will run into the new year.
Ben Woodhead Australian IT, December 18, 2007

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