Buying Professional Services

How to get value for money from consultants and other professional services providers

Fiona Czerniawska, Peter Smith

Publisher: The Economist, 2010, 247 pages

ISBN: 978-1-84668-325-1

Keywords: Consulting

Last modified: Dec. 13, 2015, 4:21 p.m.

Public and private sector organisations are spending huge amounts of money buying professional services, and most are doing it badly, without sufficiently rigorous procurement processes or an adequate understanding of the marketplace, resulting in wasted money and disappointing outcomes.

Even among those organisations with formal procurement processes and techniques, many are applying them inappropriately and therefore achieve similarly poor results. On the other side of the fence, many professional services firms don't understand how the increasing application of procurement processes could affect the way they get business and work with clients, the way they charge and ultimately, their profitability. Furthermore, while they are working together, both professional service providers and their clients too often behave in ways to reduce the potential benefits to both parties.

Using real examples from a range of private sector firms, government departments and the professional services firms themselves, this book explores what users and providers of professional services need to do to ensure that users' money is well spent and the providers' earnings are well earned.

  • Part 1: Why is buying professional services different?
    1. The professional services sector
    2. Why organisations buy professional services
    3. The challenges of buying professional services
    4. The supplier perspective
  • Part 2: The role of the purchasing department
    1. Aligning the purchasing approach with the business strategy, structure and culture
    2. Requirements and specifications
    3. Acting as an intermediary
  • Part 3: Purchasing approaches
    1. Governance, influence and demand management
    2. Category management
    3. Frameworks and approved suppliers
  • Part 4: Choosing the right supplier
    1. The selection process
    2. Selection criteria
    3. Scoring bids and tenders
  • Part 5: Negotiating and contracting
    1. Negotiation
    2. Understanding structures and costs
    3. Payment and commercial models
    4. The contract
  • Part 6: Managing the service provider
    1. Contract and performance management
    2. Supplier relationship management
    3. Sustainability and corporate social responsibility
  • Part 7: Conclusions
    1. What makes a successful assignment
    2. What could possible go wrong?
    3. The future of professional services


Buying Professional Services

Reviewed by Roland Buresund

Decent ****** (6 out of 10)

Last modified: Dec. 13, 2015, 4:20 p.m.

This is something as odd as how to purchase professional services, written for the purchasing department and senior management of the buying company. Admittedly, it has a certain Anglo-feel, but I believe it may be useful in other parts of the world as well.

With that said, I think even seasoned consultants can get some value by reading this, as it is so broad and may even give some ideas on how to approach customers.

All in all, there is nothing revolutionary in the book, but it has its values.


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