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10 October 2012 | Adam Leach
Buyers who rely on preferred supplier lists (PSL) and don’t keep on top of what’s going on in the market will fail to gain credibility from stakeholders when buying consultancy, according to an expert.
Speaking to SM, Paul Vincent, vice president of 100% Effective and chairman of the MCA Buyers Forum, explained the purpose of the group is to put buyers and consultants together to identify the things that “create unnecessary tensions”. He explained two of the issues raised at the first face-to-face meeting of the buyers’ forum in September were preferred supplier lists and a lack of knowledge on what was happening in the many consultancy markets.
With regard to PSLs, he said: “Broad consulting category themes change very quickly. A company that is particularly specialised at one particular type of consulting may have two or three individuals who are leading that for them. If those individuals leave the organisation, all of a sudden that consultancy now becomes less competitive. If you’ve got a very static preferred supplier list model, then you’re going to have to wait until the contract expires for something to happen.”
In relation to market knowledge, he said it was hard for buyers to stay on top of who was doing what in the many areas of consulting, but this was critical to gaining credibility with internal stakeholders. “If I’m the internal stakeholder and procurement want me to think they’re valuable, then when I go to them and say: ‘Who would you recommend I consider for this type of requirement?’ they need to be able to tell me,” he said. “If they can’t tell me who the good players in the market are and what the good things that are going on are, then there’s no value coming off for me in supplier selection other than a process.”
To get the most value out of consultancy deals, Vincent, who was previously recruitment, consultancy and professional services procurement director at BT, suggested buyers should take on the role of facilitator between prospective consultants and the stakeholder rather than take the lead. He also cautioned against getting too focused on cost rather than overall value. He said buyers should find a range of options in terms of cost to show the stakeholder, but as the budget holder, it is their choice which option they perceive to be the best value.