THE VALUE OF A CONSULTANT
by Leo Berz
I once heard the definition of a Consultant is “someone who uses your own watch to tell you what time it is”. Like any profession, there are good consultants and bad, ones who do little more that take your money and ones who provide immense value for their services. When it comes to procuring telecom services why use a consultant at all; most companies have been doing fine without one for all these years, right?
While many organizations have internal resources that understand the nuances of procurement and contract negotiation as it pertains to telecom services, looking outside of the organization for assistance has many benefits. Successful telecom sourcing and negotiations require expertise and specialized knowledge in the following areas:
You need to understand exactly what you are shopping for, potential alternatives, options, and which providers have the best offerings for your particular needs.
Knowing the ‘going rate’ is not enough, you also need to understand where a
technology falls within its lifecycle as pricing quickly erode as the product matures.
Unfamiliarity with these issues could result in a long-term agreement with above
Most telecom contracts, particularly from larger providers, are comprised of multiple
documents that make reference to service guides and tariffs, which typically change
numerous times within the term of a term. Furthermore, these agreements can be
onerous, putting undue liability on the customer. It is critical to understand how these
agreements are structured, how to limit your liability, and how persuade the provider
to agree to specific changes to minimize your risk.
Even if your organization possesses all the required expertise, a good consultant can garner more by deploying one of more of the following negotiating techniques:
If you have been working with the same set of providers for a while, they know you
and how you negotiate which provides them a huge advantage. A good consultant
knows how keep the providers off balance by being unpredictable at key points in the
process. They can also play hardball, if necessary without effecting your relationship
with the provider.
Consultants can assume the mentor role and coach each bidder on what they need to
do to win your business with more creditability than an internal employee. Applying
this technique equally across all the bidders, allows each provider the opportunity to
address any unique shortcomings or concerns in a highly competitive atmosphere
without breaching any ethical boundaries.
Everyone knows telecom providers like to say no and have staffs of Attorneys standing
by to tell you “we have never agreed to that before”. An experienced consultant will
not only know when to call their bluff, they can provide actual language from one of
the providers own agreements where they have done this in the past.
A good consultant will not only provide a solid ROI for their services, they can significantly
minimize your liabilities and ensure your providers live up to their promises as well.