How to choose a good consultant

There are dozens of consulting companies active in the Public Safety Land Mobile Radio market. Many enjoy a very good reputation, so finding a good consultant should not be difficult.

With the help of your internal procurement or purchasing experts, write and publish a simple RFP describing the scope of the project and listing the areas where you feel you will need help. Do not worry about being 100% accurate – one of the marks of a good consultant is the ability to independently evaluate your true needs and identify where their assistance is needed. The responses you receive should clearly separate the qualified experts from their weaker competitors. Pay close attention to the content related to your specific project, as the majority of typical bid responses provided by consulting companies are templates. An impressive generic template does not guarantee that the appropriate experts will be assigned to your project.

Once you produce a short list of potential consultants, make sure to check their references. Talk to the people you know first, but do not hesitate to call on the strangers as well. You will be able to learn a lot about the consultants, who may prove to be the most significant resource on your project.

It is customary for consulting companies to present specific people for your project and you should demand specific names. Make sure that the people you evaluate in the proposals will actually be working on your project. While “bait and switch” practices are not common, consulting companies constantly juggle their people and projects and you need to make sure that you get the expertise you need, instead of just a headcount.

Last, but not least, make sure your preferred consultant has a history of awarding projects to a diverse range of vendors. Distribution of awards reflects the reality of the market which is dominated by one vendor; that is to be expected.

However, selecting a consultant who consistently awards projects to one company may be worse than bypassing the competitive procurement process and working directly with that vendor. Why? Even before the “competitive” process begins, you may end up paying for the consultant’s services, while signalling to the preferred vendors that they are in the driver seat.

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