As European businesses switch their focus to eBusiness, they draw heavily on systems integrators and consulting groups for both strategy and implementation, but help firms’ credentials remain mixed. In a recent report, Forrester Research B.V. (Nasdaq: FORR) designed a help-firm scorecard; IBM and PwC were rated the best of the eBusiness help providers now active in the marketplace.

“Leading help providers in Europe all have strengths and weaknesses, forcing clients to use a mix of help firms to obtain best-of-breed, end-to-end service,” explained Andrew Parker, senior analyst for Corporate Technologies at Forrester Research B.V. “To create a winning team of providers, companies must move today’s discrete eCommerce initiatives into an integrated eBusiness strategy and match help choices to defined goals and projects.”

In order to assist in help-firm selection, Forrester has vetted 14 major consulting groups, systems integrators, and service companies in Europe to gauge their strengths and create a benchmark for eBusiness leaders to assess others. This is how they stack up — IBM and PwC lead the pack, scoring well on most criteria, but their eBusiness vision remains service-oriented around technologies like CRM, missing much of the overarching integration eBusiness demands. None of the help firms vetted has state of-the-art eBusiness running in-house. Firms like Deloitte Consulting and KPMG should postpone more ambitious plans until next year in order to infuse an eBusiness vision across the organization. The laggards include Arthur Andersen Business Consulting, which moved late to address eBusiness issues and continues to play catch-up.

Forrester has drawn up a four-step approach for setting eBusiness goals and bringing together the right mix of help, based on its ranking methodology: 1) set overriding eBusiness goals — within and between companies; 2) create a help-firm shortlist; 3) score and select help firms to partner with; and 4) maintain an ongoing scoring review.

“Forrester believes that as global accounting firms shed or reconstruct their consulting arms, visionary partners and managers will break away to test their own Dot Com credentials,” explained Parker. “Large consulting firms will use their unparalleled depth of contacts across the business world to facilitate vitual business emergence and online trading communities. They will lead the market in exploring new business and revenue models.”

For the Report “Scoring Europe’s eBusiness Help,” Forrester interviewed IT leaders at 40 Financial Times 500 companies, all involved in eBusiness initiatives. Forrester also spoke with 20 leading systems integrators and consulting groups plus eight independent technology vendors to form a view of the European help landscape. Most of the companies interviewed do not consider the overall impact of eBusiness on their organizations — only 40% have a companywide strategy. Most of these pursue isolated eCommerce goals, and all of these complain of high costs and unimpressive delivery.