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20 Questions for Screening a Consultant

David Taber | March 13, 2013
Some parts of vendor evaluation never change. Many folks boil it down to just three words: References, references and references. In the cloud, you really need to do a more thorough screening. References are important, but they are only part of the process. Consultant Client References

Make sure your potential consultant has good references.

How many client references did the consultant offer?

How many clients did they claim are referencable?

What is the firm's customer satisfaction ranking in the App Exchange?

Of course, references from clients in closely related industries are king. Ask around to get past the perfectly groomed references the vendor provides. Check discussion boards, user groups and other social media outlets to find out what the buzz is on the consultants, both as individuals and as a firm. Consultant Vendor Focus and Depth

It probably goes without saying, but you want a consultant who knows Salesforce.

What percentage of the vendor's revenues are Salesforce projects?

How long has the firm had a dedicated Salesforce practice?

How many Salesforce systems has it deployed?

How long has it had an Salesforce practice dedicated to your vertical industry?

There are a lot of poseurs out there advertising legions of certified consultants. Take those claims with a grain of salt. Look deeper into how serious the vendor is about its Salesforce practice. Some very large consultancies have, in fact, surprisingly small practices truly dedicated to Salesforce. Consultant Project Design

Finally, you need to make sure a consultant won't let your project fall through the cracks.

To what degree will the project depend on custom code?

To what degree will the project use offshore resources? (It's cheaper, but caveat emptor.)

Do you know exactly who will be staffing your project? Will the vendor guarantee this?

Will the vendor subcontract part of the work to unnamed third parties?

We all love to code. Heck, I can barely stop myself. But deeply custom code should be avoided if you can. It's expensive (both initially and with ongoing maintenance), and every module of custom code further limits the flexibility of your application over time. Since one of the towering strengths of Salesforce is its platform flexibility, too much code is a seriously bad thing.

And we all know the offshoring drill by now. There's no question that it's cheaper, but that's only in the narrow, hourly rate sense. For Secrets of Success" and is the CEO of SalesLogistix, a certified consultancy focused on business process improvement through use of CRM systems. SalesLogistix clients are in North America, Europe, Israel and India. Taber has more than 25 years of experience in high tech, including 10 years at the VP level or above.


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