Criteria For Evaluating Consultants – Risk of Independent Consultants

As the economy continues to erode and companies cutback, it’s only natural that the consulting world is hit hard too. In other words, there are a lot of unemployed consultants that call themselves “Independent Consultants”. And they are offering their services at unbelievable discounts. Why? Because they are unemployed! So let’s take a minute to analyze the situation and determine why it's important for you to have criteria for evaluating consultants.

  1. Do you think the terminated consultants are the superstars that will teach you and mentor you? I can tell you that the first to go are the not so-called “superstars” but those that don’t really fit in the organization, have client issues, or just don’t perform. Consulting firms keep the Lodestars (a bright star used for navigation and guidance), and who do you want working on you project?  A falling star that will burn out soon or a Lodestar?
  2. Falling star burn out – So you hire an unemployed consultant, aka independent, and they start your project and after months of shooting out resumes, getting linked to everyone possible thru linkedin and taking side gigs, they finally get a job offer. “Poof!” . . . they are no longer available for your project. Why? Because they have a family to feed, need health insurance…. Note if your consultant has a lot of new linkedin connections watch out they are probably jobseekers.
  3. Flying Solo – They call themselves “Independent” consultants. What is an independent contractor/consultant? – Usually a single person that by definition you don’t control.

    REAL LIFE STORY! I have a client that we began working with about a year ago. They previously used another firm that had lost a lot of people, some of whom become “independents”. One such person had written an interface for them and they wanted it modified. So they called the “independent “ in without our knowledge. Don’t get me wrong, we play well with others – but communication is the key! The “independent” for some reason decided to upgrade their Cognos Finance, knowing they had Cognos Planning integrated with CF, but not thinking about the ramifications on upgrading one piece at a time. Choo Choo Choo, do you hear the train coming down the track? Yes train wreck ahead! So I get the distress call!

    “HELP!!!”  As you suspected the “independent” killed access to the entire planning system and they were getting ready for a forecast.
    So I asked, “Can I speak with him to see what happened in hopes that we can fix it faster?”
    “No, he’s unavailable”.
    “Is he in the bar drinking?” I asked.
    “No he left,” they replied “What do you mean he left???”
    “Ummm, he’s on a plane going home.”
    Stunned, I asked, “Are you kidding me? Let me get this straight, he decided to upgrade a piece knowing there was integration with other moving parts, blew up the system and LEFT?”
    “Yes, he said, “I don’t know how to fix it, call Lodestar” and left.”

    Needless to say our technical team stepped in and working with the clients IT department, were able to get them up and running before their forecast was due.MORAL OF THE STORY! Independents typically work alone and can’t fix it if they screw up. You do not control them, so they can leave if they want.
    MY QUESTION – Do you think the “independent” billed them for his time and travel?

  4. Insurance – Independents often don’t carry all the insurance you should require them to carry, including liability, workmen’s comp, errors and omissions…
  5. Legal versions of the software- Many independent don’t purchase the software they support because it’s pricey. Instead they “borrow” a copy from a previous employer or you. If they don’t have legal rights to use the software, they could be eating up one of your licenses. Did you really purchase an administrator license for your consultant?  If they are not using a legal copy of the software, they will not be able to log any cases with Cognos Support, which helps resolve issues quickly.
  6. Continuous Education – Authorized partners and consulting firms invest in continuing education. Cognos requires us to have certified consultants, which means we pass exams. Independents often don’t invest in training on new versions.

    REAL STORY – I was searching blogs one day and came across an “independent’s” blog on Cognos Planning. This blog was posted on the site.

    “I Just Saw Cognos Planning version 8.4 for the First Time I did some on-site training today for a company in California. They are using Cognos Planning version 8.4. This was the first time I had ever seen this version live. I really like the Java Contributor client…”

    HELLO! Does anyone else see the issue here? This person was doing on site training, in other words, he’s the instructor on a version he’s never seen before! Really? For those of you unfamiliar with Cognos Planning 8.4 it is front end changed completely!

So, keep in mind that a cheap consultant does not mean a good consultant.  You are taking a high risk for a discounted price!

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