I’m biased of course.
But what if I were you?
How would I decide? And why listen to me?

Here I am at Mount Rainer. You can see that I’m not a recent college grad.

I have been consulting and selling ERP systems from the time when they were called accounting systems. I’ve sold and consulted for both Microsoft and Oracle ERP systems.

On our home page we mention skill-set match, business practice credo and level of expertise. You want to hire a firm that is honest and has a high level of expertise in your industry or in the processes you are implementing.

How do you tell?

The difficulty of evaluating expertise is what makes IBM, Accenture, Deloitte and other Tier 1 vendors such an attractive choice, especially if you can afford their higher rates.

While it’s true that these brand companies have some of the best talent in the business, the “stars” at these companies are overworked and you probably have to be very lucky or pushy to get them on your account. There is still comfort in knowing that if the project “nose-dives” and you scream loud enough, you will get some of these experts to right the ship.

Perhaps it’s true that nobody ever got fired for hiring IBM though quite a few people did get fired for hiring Arthur Anderson at Enron.

Many of us would like to find that hidden gem , the small consulting firm with reasonable rates which is brimming over with Oracle mavens willing to work all hours of the night. Their focus is on getting the job done right, on time and within budget. They may under value their skills and likely undersell themselves.

It’s a little like finding the exceptional restaurant that not many people know about yet or the local mechanic that only fixes what really needs to be done and where you never have to bring it back the next day because they got the wrong problem.

Frank my auto mechanic. Always honest, Never a needless repair

My wife admires how I can find those hidden gem restaurants but that’s a subject for another blog.

The advice that follows is not meant as a replacement for multipage checklists with weighted data analysis that IBM, Fujitsu or Capgemini might offer but rather as a common sense, supplemental approach.

The Warren Buffet Rule

Warren Buffet said that he never invests in something he doesn’t understand. He never lost any money with Bernie Madoff.

The same is true with consulting firms. If they can’t explain so that it makes sense, it’s probably a bad sign.

Beware the Chinese Menu

I don’t like restaurants that have too much on their menu as it usually means they are unlikely to do anything well.

Unless it’s a Tier 1 consulting firm like IBM, it’s difficult to be proficient in more than a small number of skill sets.

Off-shore companies are especially fond of the kitchen sink menu of skills. A good company (as well as good consultant) knows what it can’t and shouldn’t do.

Music To Your Ears

Salespeople have a great knack of telling you just what you want to hear. What may seem like music to your ears initially might end up being sounds you never want to hear again.

One of the greatest challenges that a good consultant has is telling the client what the client doesn’t want to hear but needs to know.

It’s this kind of sober, realistic assessment that results in a project being completed on time and within budget.

Ask yourself if the consultants in the firm you are about to hire would be willing to deliver a message that might cause you to want to shoot them!

The Chemistry Test

Just like in our personal life, we have instinctively attracted to certain companies and not others, probably because we share a certain gestalt.

Assuming that the firm’s competencies are high and there is skill set match, this is an important factor in the selection process. It can result in a trusted, productive relationship.

Try to be aware whether such chemistry exists.

The Bullshit Test

Most vendors have a great sales pitch. They have made their pitch many times before, each time refining it with more spin to make it even more appealing.

It’s easy for any of us to lose our sense of bearings after going through three or four of these presentations.

One final test is to ask your spouse, partner or anyone else who may know very little about the technology but is a good judge of bullshit to briefly meet and talk to each of your final choices.

You may be glad you listened to them.

If you are still reading this, perhaps that means you liked and enjoyed what I’ve said. I’m flattered.

Well, this could be a sales pitch too!