Everything You Wanted To Know About Consultants But Didn’t Know To Ask
Background/Disclaimer • 10 Years in the Public Sector • 5 as a cop • 5 in emergency management • 4.5 Years in Consulting None of this represents former employers, but my own opinions and thoughts.
Two Kinds of People Use Consultants • You know how to do it. You know exactly what you want. You simply don’t have time or the ability to clone yourself. • You don’t understand a project and require subject matter expertise or…
Times Have Changed • The Feds caught on a little late about the money going to toys. • Plans aren’t fun. Plans are for consultants. • Plans are hard. If done right.
Choose Wisely There essentially two types of consultants. • National large firms • Local small companies They both have pros and cons and will try and sell you on those advantages or disadvantages.
Large Firms • Examples: SAIC/Leidos, Booz, James Lee Witt, CRA… • Advantages: Knowledgeable SMEs; Good Experience running complex programs; Deep bench for full-scale exercises; Slick production values. • Disadvantages: Generally not local; Usually more expensive due to higher overhead; Greater chance of cookie cutter plans/exercises. • Restaurant Equivalent: Cheesecake Factory
Small Local Firms • Examples: Whatever name your former chief decided to call it when he retired. • Advantages: Usually have a good working knowledge of the area and the players; Usually cheaper due to lower costs; Able to spend more in person time with you as they are closer. • Disadvantages: Less experienced, especially with larger projects; Light on staffing; Experience can be limited to the area; Fewer resources available for marketing or IT. • Restaurant Equivalent: The awesome burrito place in the gas station
Pre-Award • This is the person works in Business Development. Their job is to win the job. • This is the person who is going to be working on the project. • In big firms, these two might not talk very much.
Oral Presentations If you have oral presentations, which you should, ask for the following to be there: • Project Manager: The person you’ll be spending a lot of time with • Junior Staff/Analyst: Person who is going to be spending a lot of their time on this. Also for key staff, ask where they are located and how many other projects they are currently on.
Phase 2 If you have a project and you call it Phase 1, you will be able to get a lower price many times. Simply by using the term “Phase 1”, companies are going to assume there is a Phase 2. This is called “follow on work” and it’s like a homerun in consulting.
Successful Partnerships • To be successful with a consultant, you need to remember that this is a partnership and requires work on your part. • How much time do you plan to spend with the person writing the plan? • Less time = Bigger pile of horse crap • Consultants aren’t paid to care for you.
Tips and Tricks • Check “Properties” • Don’t pay someone to advance slides. • Tell the consultant about issues/problems before meetings • Open the scope to more than just plan creation.
Questions? Angry Yelling? Horror Stories?
Graham Campbell Graham.Campbell@gmail.com 617-379-1556