How to work with consulting firms?

How to work with consulting firms?

When we want to work with consulting firms, it is important to have a plan. This first step of the project planning phase is defining the desired solution and the scope of the project. That way you have a general project plan and summary estimates on hand to help you decide which parts of the project to assign to a consulting firm. Ideally, this planning phase is executed by a different company than the one that carries out the work, and the first company ensures that work is going according to plan.


How to work with consulting firms?

It is crucial to provide a framework for consulting firms’ work by determining what their deliverables are. It is also important to establish the project parameters as precisely as possible such as participating business units, the business processes targeted, data to convert, interfaces to build, the deployment approach, the methodology and versions of software to implement. Consulting firms wish to obtain the most complete mandate possible, but it is up to you to decide who to entrust part of the project to, based on their field of expertise.


The more clearly you define the mandates, the greater your chances of negotiating a contract with a set price. This helps reduce your financial risk.


It is a good idea to understand a consulting firm’s area of expertise before asking for a proposal. If you clearly communicate your needs, you are more likely to receive proposals that are on target. So take the time to discuss your needs with them and to understand how they operate.


How to target consulting firms with whom to consider potential collaboration?

The fees paid to consulting firms need to reflect the added value of the products delivered. Since the company that offers the most value is the one that can use its experience and intellectual capital to speed up the delivery of your project, it is in your interest to retain a company that has experience in the type of project you are undertaking.


It is a good idea to maintain some healthy competition between companies whose services you are soliciting. Ask at least three companies to respond to your call for proposals. Give yourself enough time to draft a quality call for proposals. The more complete and specific the document, the less companies will rely on assumptions in drafting their proposal, and the better you will be able to compare the proposals you receive.


Also, keep in mind that the lowest price does not always mean the greatest value. Like you should do during the recruitment process, take the time to prepare a table to evaluate proposals. In this grid, make sure to evaluate the understanding of the mandate, how well they cover the scope, the experience in the area of intervention, the knowledge of your industry, the quality of the proposed team, the price and approach.


You should also use your organization’s procurement department during the selection process. Their expertise will help you get better terms and maximize your buying power.


How to choose the consulting firm to work with?

Once the proposals are in hand, don’t hesitate to conduct interviews. That way you can evaluate the level of skill of the resources proposed by the different companies and ensure that they have the experience required to do the job. Don’t be afraid to ask for references from their customers.


Before the company completes its mandate, make sure knowledge is transferred between the consultants and your permanent employees. It is called the post-implementation support. Its goal is to promote skills acquisition on your team while maximizing your investment.

Jean-François Desroches is Program Manager at PlanAxion Solutions.
He can be reached at