Experts Guide On How To Buy Professional Services

When buyers or procurement managers say part of their job is buying professional services what do they actually mean? Professional services can cover many areas, strictly speaking being a professional is someone who has the accreditation, training and work experience in a particular field of expertise. A wider view of professional services is any offering requiring specialist services such as PR, advertising, legal, IT consultancy or Management Consultancy. The output being bought is knowledge.

Typically when assessing the value of consultancy services we score quality and price separately. Let’s start with quality, where do you sit in the spectrum of understanding what your internal client is buying? For those who have no idea about how to influence the quality perhaps it’s easier to stick to transactional contributions like formatting the ITT documents, sending the ITT via the e-procurement portal and advising on procurement compliance. This may be one element of your role but you need to ask where is the real value being added? Some Procurement managers may advise against talking to the market before a tender is issued through fear of the client selecting a favourite supplier who they like and decide to base their specification the supplier’s solution even before formal competition has started. A good procurement professional should add value and have confidence in speaking to the market pre- formal procurement.

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Buying professional services can be complex, work with suppliers in the market place to discuss the brief in detail, don’t be afraid to ask for pre-market engagement and listen to their feedback if useful incorporate this into the specification. Avoid bias by opening up the conversation to the industry and hold a supplier day for fairness and transparency.

Focusing on the price element this may comprise of hourly or daily rate and perhaps utilisation. It’s easier to keep this relatively simple because driving down price to the granular detail detracts from the bigger prize, the solution the professional services will provide which should have an ROI that exceeds a few percent extra savings on price. This isn’t to say that we shouldn’t scrutinise price at all, it should be done proportionately.

Source below Chartered Management Institute