Getting The Most From Your Consulting Dollars – Avoid the Bait and Switch

In the prior 2 posts we covered the cost ineffectiveness that can be experienced when engaging “some” consulting firms.

We’ll now cover the reality often experienced when attempting to obtain that particularly desired set of skills.

The underlying goal is to piece together a team of people who are compatible with and will augment your existing workforce.

We’ve all been there…

It starts with a meeting with the business development representative from the typical consulting firm. You know, the high-caliber, polished person, like James Bond or Madame Secretary.

Someone you would be proud to represent you in front of your project stakeholders, senior management and even board of directors.

They sure have presence – and can sell!

However, after the deal is consummated and the project gets underway we too often realize that the actual resources assigned are not at the experience or skill level we expected. And, they certainly do NOT have the polish and presence that we had hoped for.

Yes, there are MANY reputable consulting firms for which the above situation doesn’t occur. The goal is to ensure you engage those firms.

So, let’s rewind…

When evaluating your consulting resource options, to consider engaging on a project, it is critically important to outline specifically what is needed – in advance!

Do you need:

  • A high-caliber project manager who will perform (on your behalf) as the lightning rod for the initiative? Maybe so, maybe not…
  • A highly analytical, detail-oriented person who can navigate through a set of complex business processes, make sense of and streamline them in a way that improves operational efficiencies (with all stakeholders bought-in and comfortable)?
  • A resource (or resources) with DEEP experience architecting, configuring and/or implementing a specific technology?
  • Help documenting and/or training to a new business process and/or application?
  • A team with local, regional, national and/or global reach?
  • A strong coach who will work side-by-side a particular manager to mentor this person through change and/or to the next level of their expanding position’s requirements?
  • Etc. – The list goes on and on…

And, it cannot go without saying, these resources must have exceptional interpersonal management and communication skills.

To ensure the above, you’ll want to request that all stakeholders involved in the selection of the consulting firm and/or success of the initiative weigh-in on the required skill-set(s).

Then, once you begin evaluating options you’ll want to review the profiles and ultimately meet the PRECISE people the consulting firm is proposing they assign to the project. You must “press the flesh”!

Now, to be fair…This does NOT mean that the consulting firm can be locked in to engaging each and every person you met during this process. As you know, it often takes weeks (if not months) for the final decision to be made, funding to be allocated and scheduling to line up for the project to actually commence.

During this timeframe it may have become necessary for the consulting firm to deploy some (even many) of the people you met, on other engagements.

So, how do you mitigate the risk? Ensure you:

  • Meet a number of people from the firm who can fill the role(s) needed on the project, to confirm the depth of their resource pool.
  • Negotiate into the contract details and expectations you have for each resource with the ability to request a change if someone doesn’t fit the bill.

In closing, with Customer Centricity (and a number of other firms we have worked with), what you see is what you get. That is, the people we put in front of our clients ARE the resources they will be working with.

There is no “bait and switch.”

Don’t let James Bond or Madame Secretary sell you a nice pair of rose-colored glasses. In order to ensure you are engaging the right resources with the desired skills and experience, you’ll want to meet them – in advance of signing the contract!

More to come!

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