Sunday, March 24, 2019

When Politics Affect Business Projects


I recently read that the court battles over whether to include a citizenship question in the upcoming census are threatening to reduce the profitability of the contract to print the census—which was awarded to Chicago-based printer R.R. Donnelley.

Donnelly has a strict deadline in which it has to deliver the census forms but, because of the on-going litigation in Washington D.C., they can't start printing until it is sorted out.

Meeting the deadline will thus increase their expenses (cutting into their profits) because they will have to use extra presses and possibly pay over-time.

This reminds me of a consulting project I did for Ameritech (a baby Bell) back in the mid-to-late '90's.  Then, the issue is that Ameritech wanted to get into the long distance market but, in return, the FCC required them to open the local phone market to competition.

This meant that competitors, such as AT&T or MCI, would "buy" local service at cost from Ameritech and re-sell it to the public.  So, customers could have their phone service with MCI, but in actuality they would be installed and supported by Ameritech

We were designing a strategic solution to allow this.  It basically meant setting up a software application that competitors could use to set up customers for installations, service, etc. which would then be sent into Ameritech's existing service system.

However, we kept having to make changes as the lawyers for both sides hashed out requirements in court.  Each new court decision brought changes, which resulted in re-work and delays.

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