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Selecting and Evaluating Expert Consultants

Our company is an expert consultancy that offers services in virtually all aspects of the building lifecycle (see PFCS Services below). I think everyone can understand that all top tier consultancies shiver at the idea of being judged by clients who simply compare the fee schedules of various competitors (Think Wal-Mart vs. Nordstrom). Although our hourly rates are competitive, they will never be the lowest.

Our company's highest and best use, and what we have worked on for the last decade, is to figure out how we make the "Total Cost of Consulting" valuable to our clients. "Most value" is sometimes the lowest cost, but often not. “Value” is a function of how the fruit of the consulting work is going to be used. If someone pays for a report but does not read it, ignores the information in making decisions, or does not execute the recommendations, then the consulting work has no value, no matter how excellent the analysis.

Creating the most value for consulting services, regardless of whether the “total cost of consulting” is modest or extravagant, requires:

  1. Case-by-case application of professional judgement by awesome, experienced and well trained consultants;
  2. A well defined and fine-tuned system to maintain consistency and quality control;
  3. A mechanism to get the price right and be able to compare the ultimate cost of the solution to the original plan, and;
  4. Communication, information and feed-back by the purchaser of the consulting services.

Many of our projects are likely to lead to litigation, are currently in litigation, or have already been in litigation, so we know as well as anyone that life is messy. Litigation is unpredictable and constantly changing. Disciplined management in the face of constant, unpredictable change is hard; but we have figured it out. We even have a seminar to teach owners, attorneys and insurance professionals the discipline of “Managing Expert Work and Costs” - there is a 3 minute video introduction if you have time.