Tag: Professional Services

Ok, I get it.  I was a bit easy on professional services as a whole in my last piece.  Many of you who have worked in or around the industry for a while would likely tell me that I was giving way too much credit and that I completely ignored some of the horror stories.  Well, that’s why we’re here right now – to shed some of the negative light on the topic in the interest of fair and equal reporting.

Professional services firms and contractors are not always worth their weight in gold.  To briefly review some of the cons:

  •  They can be hopelessly tied to “scope” which makes it tough to make them think outside the box or be agile when course/direction/plans change
  • They have an extremely wide talent range (especially the larger “big four” firms – quality control is just extremely difficult when it’s all a numbers/margin game and you’re trying to employ/deploy several hundred thousand people)
  • They are very costly, with many typical bill rates falling in the $150/hr range for general/basic services (which, annualized at a roughly 2000 hour working year, is a whopping $300k!)
  • They typically like to push “cookie cutter” templates as a solution to any defined business problem out of ease of create/adaptation (which, most of the time, take more rework to retrofit to your needs than you would have invested simply starting from scratch)
  • They can be generally arrogant since they are (allegedly) in a position of “knowledge” or “subject matter expertise” (in other words, they think they’re smarter than you because you’d be hopelessly lost without them and are generally ignorant on whatever topic you’ve retained them for)
  • They can (and do usually) fabricate false qualifications in order to “win the work” and may often times “oversell” or “underdeliver” based on a misunderstanding in the work that is to be completed from the buyer’s, seller’s, and deliverer’s standpoint (never a good thing when those three opinions are not closely aligned!)

Some people love them, some hate them.  Either way – we all need them to get by from time to time.  So here’s to making the best of it!  Perhaps I will soon divulge some more information on “how to optimize” the work/results you get from your professional services providers.  Especially, you know, since I’ve now been on both sides of the desk and I might be in a decent position to weigh in on that?  Hmmm…

Til Next Time,

Michael

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the concept of professional services, contractors, and staff augmentation.  I think there are definite benefits as well as drawbacks to relying on this type of labor in your organization.  I’ll start off today by analyzing some of the pros.  I do promise to come back in a few days though and review “the case against” as well though.

Professional services firms and workers are largely very capable, talented, and respectful individuals who serve a great purpose in their part of the organization (or at least in the area of the business that has retained/hired them to perform a particular function).

In short, here is a list of pro’s I have for professional services:

  • They can be specialized in very specific areas to add value to very detailed functions immediately (e.g. a specific technology, industry, location, function)
  • They are flexible and can often show up on a moment’s notice (sometimes even same-day)
  • They can and will travel in case you need them deployed to a different location (or locations) that is not their “home base”
  • They do not bear many of the costs an internal employee would bear (e.g. health care, retirement contribution matches, training)
  • They can be negotiated to relatively affordable rates, especially when you can have different firms/groups bidding on the same work
  • They have contracts that are generally tied to specific time frames so you are not stuck employing them indefinitely even if their function or role is no longer needed
  • They are completely expendable and can often be terminated on extremely short notice (in the event there has been something happen that requires this)

It’s not always a match made in heaven though.  Again, stay tuned for my “case against” professional services in the near future.

Til Next Time,

Michael

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