As a professional project manager myself near the very top of my trade I'd like to propose the following:
1. If you're a project manager and all of the following are true for a major project then you should be banned from being a project manager for life:
- You agreed to the scope of the project
- You put together the budget, resourcing and schedule for the project
- The budget, resourcing and schedule were either approved as proposed or you agreed to any amendments suggested
- The project ended up exceeding one of the following statuses: 20% late or 20% over budget
Additionally, if there are scope changes proposed by anyone then they MUST be fully approved in a scope change including the impact analysis BEFORE any change to the project happens. If you can't do that then you deserve to be beaten with a truck-load of PRINCE2 manuals.
2. A law is passed that if you're a supplier to a government project and the entire payment to you is likely to be over £1m then you must agree to the following:
- There are no Time and Materials provisions. All costs must be planned up front.
- Expenses are fully included in the contract with a firm, no exceptions expense cap.
- If you over-run then that's your problem, you meet the costs yourself.
- If the scope is unclear on a point then the burden of proof is on the supplier to prove that it should not be interpreted in the government's favour.
- If you agree to an end-deliverable then you are 100% responsible for every bit of work required to deliver it unless an exception is in the contract for specific items or resources. Again, if there's something missing then it's your fault, you fund it.
These points alone would stop almost every single bit of consultancy over-run and scope creep. I'm used to approaching consultancy contracts from a commercial project perspective and we usually have to have senior lawyers involved to beat out any unclear areas, they try every single time to have vague terms included that could be interpreted as allowing them to charge more for things. If they can scam a claim for something vague then they will.
I fell for this years ago and missed something quite important, we had a named lead consultant who would author the final report, the unwritten assumption was that he'd be onsite for the entire time doing most of the research, contract was signed and we didn't see him again, he was replaced by an "associate" who looked about 18 and just filled in checklists. We got a final report with the lead consultant's name on it, it was so vague as to be nearly unusable but it did do as the contract said it would. I now get the contract to specifically state named individuals who will be on site working on the contract with a "no-show, no-work, no-pay" statement, if they send additional people then that's fine but it comes out of their pocket.