Consultants are hired for their expertise. They can do something your organization cannot do, does not want to do or hasn’t the resources to do. Whatever the reason for being hired, you should expect them to perform commensurate with their billing fees. If they cost more, they should perform more.
The more consultants you have, the more difficulty you’ll have keeping track of them. I remember recently working for a day at a client who had a large consultancy all over them. In my line of sight were four consultants who, as far as I could see, did nothing productive all day. This still cost the client mega-dollars.
Many clients are in awe of their consultants (and the consultants encourage this). But, having worked for or with most of the large consultancies I can assure you that you shouldn’t be in awe, you should be in close management.
First you want to know which consultants are on your project and why. Demand to see the credentials and experience of each and every consultant assigned to your project — even if they’re from McKinsey, BCG or alike. Why is this person qualified to consult to and perform on your project? Consultancies hate this, but you’re paying the bills, so you have the right to ensure those on your project deserve to be there. (You should get your Sponsor to back you on this otherwise you could be let down from above.)
A recent consultancy-resourced systems implementation project was off the rails. The system vendor checked the accreditation of the 62-strong consultancy implementation team. Only three had any credentials with the software version being implemented, and only another 6 had any experience with the software at all. But the client should have picked this up on day-1 by demanding to see each person’s software accreditation and experience. If they don’t know what they’re doing, you won’t get any worthwhile performance.
Remember this accreditation check also needs to be performed if consultant staff are swapped in and out of your project. By the way, any change in consultancy staff should only be done with your permission; and you should only give it if they are leaving the consultancy (nothing much they can do about this) or they’re being replaced for inadequate performance by someone better. Otherwise, refuse the swap. Helping the consultancy balance their resources is not your job.
Timesheets are for cost management, not performance management. While you need to see and sign off on what you are going to be charged for, what you really want to see is results — fast, excellent quality results.
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