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FCW : April 30, 2013
April 30, 2013 FCW.COM 23 references for potential consultants and looking for examples of their abil- ity to overcome resistance to change and achieve projects ultimate goals. "You want to see how they worked with the agency, how they helped the agency undertake the change," Forman said. "There s a difference between the people who have done the study and the people who have helped their customers all the way to bene ts realization." Finally, agencies should take a hard look at the bidders justi cation for the methodology proposed, and the depth of experience and resources they can draw on. For one IT cost-reduction proj- ect, Deloitte found that the agen- cy s IT spending wasn t clearly connected to mission outcomes and objectives. So when a 10 per- cent budget cut was ordered, the impact was unclear. By turning to a database of more than 150 hypotheses that described the data required to validate each one, White said, the Deloitte team was able to specify the impact of pro- posed cuts in detail. The importance of communication In addition to the required documentation, in-person and phone communication is invaluable. Garnett requires an in-person meeting before any consulting contract is awarded and clearly states her expectations up front. She tells consultants: "I don t want your B team. The team you propose to me is the team I expect to be there. If you re not going to be able to deliver on that, we might as well address it now." That helps solve the "disap- pearing guru" problem, when a well-known expert helps a con- sulting rm land a contract but then is whisked off to another project and replaced by the second string. However, even if the promised team appears, the consulting rm needs to explain how it shares knowledge and lessons learned among its employees, Forman said. "The government spent a lot of money in the rst few iterations of enterprise architecture contracts because some of the biggest-name companies operated as if they were franchises," he said. "They used the corporate insight to win the work, and then the team that showed up had no experience and couldn t use the methodology." Frequent communication also helps identify when a project is about to go off the rails so participants can adjust as needed. Furthermore, nearly every consulting project will uncover new information that must be incorporated into the plan. "You get into a piece of work and you re operating against either explic- it or implicit assumptions, and then somebody remembers or eshes out that one of the assumptions is invalid," White said. "When there s blame to be laid, that creates behavior that is far more detrimental than the unknown." He added that it is important for the agency s IT and contracting teams to work well together and under- stand the business goals and mission context of the con- sulting project. "The key to this is effective communica- tions and a good governance structure between the man- agement consultant, the CIO and their contracts of cer," White said. Garnett likes to review a contract six months before it comes up for renewal, which keeps costs in line and signals to the consultant that renewal must be earned. She also insists on a post-imple- mentation evaluation to make sure the system or solution actually solved the original problem. Such diligence makes even more sense in the ongoing budget crisis. "We re seeing the govern- ment respond to the environ- ment and gure out where the right places to cut are," Isman said. "Where they nd value from their part- nerships with consultants, that value is still there and I d argue could be even more important in these trying times." ■ "The greatest skill consultants have is tremendous pattern recognition. They can quickly come up with hypothesized solutions and test those out." --- JOE JORDAN, OFFICE OF FEDERAL PROCUREMENT POLICY
April 15, 2013
May 15, 2013