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An Insider's Guide to Shopping for Consultants

by Mark Mullaly, Ph.D., PMP

How you go about shopping for a consultant is critical. Most companies do it poorly rather than doing it well. This makes the entire process more frustrating, time consuming and expensive for all parties, consultants and customers alike. In the hope that some of this frustration can be minimized, we present an insider's guide to shopping for a consultant.

Topic Teasers Vol. 22: Agile Procurement

by Barbee Davis, MA, PHR, PMP, PMI-ACP

Question: Since our agile team is self-managed, we have recently received notice that we can also oversee procurement on items that would not be commonly used by the rest of the organization. None of us has a background in this area. How do we make good buying decisions?

A. People who are agile should not be buying things. That slows down software development. Tell management you will need a Procurement Department to make purchases so you are not involved in this low-level process in any way.
B. Agile projects do not need anything except enthusiastic and inventive people to create success. Leave any procurement issues to those who follow traditional project management processes.
C. If your team is often short of money to add all the extra bells and whistles to the project, being in charge of procurement gives you the opportunity to ask prospective vendors for free merchandise to use for the project or for team incentives.
D. There are some common questions you can ask to help the team make better procurement decisions. It is a positive move to gain procurement responsibility since you are in the best position to evaluate buying options and get the features you really need to optimize your project success.
Pick your answer then Test Your Knowledge!

The Path to the PMP (Part 12)

by Bruce Garrod

The Project Procurement Management knowledge area often causes stress to potential PMP exam takers, but it doesn't have to be that way. There are, however, a few important elements within the process that will need to be studied in further detail.

Evaluating Consultants

by Kenneth Darter, PMP

Just having bodies in seats is not enough for success; it needs to be the right bodies at the right time. When a project involves a consultant, it is important to evaluate the resource and not take their resume or proposal at face value.

Insourcing vs. Outsourcing

by Kenneth Darter, PMP

Sometimes it's a knock-down, drag-out brawl between proponents of insourcing and outsourcing. When the final bell rings, who will still be standing?

The Highs and Lows of Contract Project Management

by Andy Jordan

Done well, contract-based project management can deliver the kind of results that simply wouldn’t be possible using only employee resources; done poorly, it can be a disaster.

Hiring a Consultant: What to Do, What Not to Do...and Why

by Mark Mullaly, Ph.D., PMP

Is "consultant" a dirty word? Many consultants get a bad name from the fact that they become indistinguishable from the organizational employees that they work alongside. How do you know that hiring a consultant is a good idea?

The Key to Optimum Outsourcing

by Jiju (Jay) Nair, PMP

Some studies have indicated that the real benefits of offshore outsourcing can be diminished by issues in communication, skill sets and accountability. But if managed properly, offshore IT projects can reap substantial rewards.

The Consulting Relationship: A Matter of Trust

by Andy Jordan

Many consulting engagements see frustrated consultants because they are not allowed to do what they feel is needed to maximize the chances of success. Here, we look at how these scenarios can be avoided--something that starts with trust.

The Pros and Cons of Consultants

by Michael Wood

What comes to mind when you ponder the possibility of engaging a consultant? Dread or excitement? The high cost or opportunity for growth? Most of us have heard good things and bad things about using consultants, most of which are true.

Build or Buy: How Do You Decide?

by Andy Jordan

Build versus buy decisions are crucial for success, but they aren’t simple. Some elements will be developed in house and some will be outsourced. But with such a wide ranging impact, how do you decide on the best approach?

Project + Government = Change

by Kenneth Darter, PMP

Transitions can be difficult when management and stakeholders change--something that happens on a regular basis in the government. Some basic guidelines can keep the project on track.

Procurement Management Done Agile (Part 2)

by Don Kim

A new agile procurement process--one that can operate in conjunction with and alongside an agile software development methodology--should significantly improve both the procurement of software vendor’s services and and successful delivery of software projects. This article will explore the underlying principles as well as map the reconciliation points required to harmonize agile development and procurement methods.

Scrum Artifacts in the New ScrumBOK

by Don Kim

Some substantive updates to the definition of Scrum artifacts may seem like minor clarifications to terms and definitions, but they have quite profound implications. In this article, we discuss these changes and how they affect the ScrumMaster (or project manager) tasked with delivering a “done” increment.

The Outsiders

by Brad Egeland

Does your project need outside help? You’ll need to consider a few things before making your pitch to the necessary senior leadership and actually bringing in an outside consultant. Here, we cover some key considerations.

Procurement Management Done Agile (Part 1)

by Don Kim

This will be the first in a series of articles that will look to provide the background of issues involved with managing an agile software development project under a traditionally linear and sequential project procurement process. Software development has been deliberately chosen for the example industry since that’s the domain for which agile is most typically used, but for those using agile in other industry domains, the general issues and proposed solution should work equally well within your industry.

The Procurement Project

by Kenneth Darter, PMP

Procurement management is one of the knowledge areas in PMBOK, but procurements for large computer systems or multi-year projects can easily take on a life of their own. This article will provide guidelines for issues that are unique to a procurement project. Ensuring that these guidelines are followed (or at least considered) by the appropriate stakeholder will assist the PM in successfully completing the procurement so that the real work can begin.

Did You Even Read the RFP?!

by Andy Jordan

Have you ever thought about the RFP process from the other perspective--the potential vendor who responds? An RFP response is more than just a proposal to supply products and/or services; in many cases it is an opportunity to showcase a potential vendor to the procuring organization. But when some vendors reply to RFPs, you have to wonder what they thought that they were bidding on. In this article, we flag some of the things vendors should consider.

An Eye on Supply

by Mike Donoghue

In the ever-increasing speed trip down the ramp of badly made cost-cutting decisions, many mainstream manufacturers are compromising on the quality of their products. To help address this, we all need to more carefully monitor the quality of our supplier goods.

The Problems with RFPs (Part 2)

by Craig Curran-Morton

RFPs are a double-edged sword for many vendors. In the first article, we looked at the challenges with layout and content. In this second installment, we look at the challenges vendors experience in the process from the point they are made aware of the RFP to the submission of the bid.

RFP: Really Failed Plan?

by Andy Jordan

Some RFPs are bad…really bad. It makes you wonder how clear the purchasing organization is on what they are trying to achieve. Here, we look at the process that an organization goes through in preparing and issuing an Request For Proposal--and identify some best practices.


"Technology is a gift of God. After the gift of life it is perhaps the greatest of God's gifts. It is the mother of civilizations, of arts and of sciences."

- Freeman Dyson