Provider “Neutral?” Really?

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Jeff Seabloom, Managing Director ·

If you walked into a Mercedes dealer and said you wanted to buy a luxury car, you’d be surprised if the sales person suggested you try the Cadillac dealer across the street. After all, the guy’s job is to sell Mercedes and he has a vested interest in you buying one.

Yet, client organizations consistently hire consultancies expecting to get unbiased and objective recommendations on technology solutions. And they do this even though the firms they’ve engaged often stand to reap significant financial benefits if one particular solution is chosen over another – particularly when it comes to implementation of the chosen technologies and business applications.

Consider the scenario: An enterprise shopping for a business application system – say, claims processing for insurance – hires a consulting firm to assess requirements and alternative options. The firm comes in with impressively smart people, robust methodologies and detailed templates. Requirements are gathered, teams are formed, RFXs are written and questions are posed and answered. The rigorous process results in the selection of a package, and – surprise! The consultancy conducting the assessment, RFX, evaluation and selection turns out to be the very one best qualified to manage the implementation. Before you know it the bus has pulled up and the billing has commenced.

The surprising frequency with which this dynamic plays out should lead client organizations to ask some questions: Were the requirements tailored? Did the RFX reflect the customer’s requirements? Or the consultant’s capabilities?

The broader question is, why? Why hire a company to provide “objective” advice on buying something that that company sells? It’s like walking into a Mercedes showroom and expecting to hear about Cadillacs.

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