Monday, January 7, 2008

Choosing an Implementation Partner

If it was determined that the in-house implementation of your incentive management system was not ideal, the choice of your implementation partner will make the difference between success and failure. A solid team will insure a successful delivery of the system on time and on budget; a poor team will cause the project to run beyond schedule and over-budget. An experienced implementation partner will also be able to assist in making the optimal solution decision.

There are 3 different situations that can be considered:

  • Hiring a large IT/Management consulting company such as Accenture or IBM.
  • Hiring a smaller/boutique consulting firm specializing in Sales Performance Management and Incentive Compensation Management
  • Hiring individual contractors
Each of these approaches also offers several advantages and disadvantages.

Large Consulting Company Pros:
Large consulting companies...
  • are likely to have implemented the chosen solution several times
  • will be able to leverage deliverables from several past clients
  • will have learned considerably from past successes (and failures)
  • will usually be able to leverage an established and proven method,ology
  • will be able to pull in the appropriate resources at the different stages in the project, and increase or decrease the head count as required

Large Consulting Company Cons:
Large consulting companies...
  • have many consultants with limited experience; with a typical fast career track, consultants are promoted into management roles without having mastered a technology.
  • The ‘doers’ on the team are often fresh out of college and may have no previous compensation management experience (or even IT experience)!
  • have bigger overheads; as such, the contracting fees are also typically higher.
  • may not undertake a project if it does not generate at least a million dollars in revenues.
  • are large because it operate in several IT sectors, across several industries, in several countries. The actual compensation management practice may not have a greater headcount than a specialized company.

Boutique Consulting Firm Pros:
Boutique consulting firms...
  • usually focus on a niche market – several companies focus on sales performance system integration. Some companies even focus on the integration of a specific solution
  • really care about their client’s satisfaction – their reputation is everything to them
  • will also be able to leverage deliverables from past clients
    are also likely to have implemented the chosen solution several times
  • will usually have more seasoned technical experts

Boutique Consulting Firm Cons:
Boutique consulting firms...
  • may be less “stable” than larger well established company
  • don’t have a brand name to sell to management
  • may have issues to replace their consultants if team members become sick or leave
  • may not follow a methodology

Individual Contractors:

Contracting individuals is a great way to supplement a team with experts. These individuals will be able to bring a different perspective to the table to assist the in-house team or integration partner in the system design and integration.

The choice of a small or a large implementation partner really depends on the specific situation. Having worked for both a large consulting company and a small consulting company, I would say that the value for the money of hiring a smaller company is better. However a small consulting company should be selected with great care!

The bottom line:
Whether you choose a large consulting company or a small boutique firm, ask for references, make sure they have plenty of relevant experience, find out if they have relevant certifications, and ask yourself if you can trust them.

If you have had good or bad experiences with different types of consulting partners, please share your thoughts!

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Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Julien Dionne is a well-rounded consultant with global business management experience and outstanding technical, business and leadership skills. He earned a Bachelor of Applied Science in Software Engineering from the University of Ottawa, Canada, and he is a member of the Canadian Professional Sales Association. The views posted within this blog do not reflect the views of Julien’s current or previous employers and clients. Julien can be reached at