Technology Consulting Firm Neutrality – is it important?

October 6, 2017

There are many HCM Technology Consulting organizations today that offer a brand of “strategic services”. These range from creating an HCM technology strategy to assistance in selecting a vendor. Some of these firms are vendor neutral and others are not – well actually some say they are, but they are not. How is a consumer to know the difference, and does it really matter?

There are a few definitions of “vendor neutral”, and to me, a vendor is neutral if they obtain no revenue from the referral or direct sale of a product. A vendor is not neutral in a software evaluation situation if they implement a specific software vendor, but they only obtain implementation revenue if they bring new customers to that vendor. It is also important that the firm itself is not funded or owned by a software vendor, or a venture capital firm that also funds a software vendor.

So, does it really matter?  It does if you want to have a partner that will provide counsel and guidance based on what is best for your organization. While you can always ask if a firm is vendor neutral, there are other ways to detect that you are talking to a biased firm:

  • They only present to you a few options for your vendor evaluation. There are hundreds of vendors in the HCM Space. Your consulting partner should present you with 10+ options, and know enough about all the products to be able to help you decide on those you want to evaluate.
  • Their process includes making your software purchase for you. There is a difference between making a recommendation, and deciding for you. If your consultant wants to make the decision for you, that decision is likely going to be beneficial to them, not you.
  • They only attend certain industry events. If a consulting firm only attends the events of specific vendors, and choose specific vendor events over general industry events, this should be a sign to you that they are highly invested in that specific vendor.

This is not to say that a firm that specializes in a specific vendor product would not be a good partner. They would, if you know that the product they represent is the one that you want and would like deep expertise in that product.

However, if you are looking for guidance on what product to buy based on a process that focuses on your needs, make sure you are working with a vendor neutral firm.

About the Author:

Jacqueline Kuhn

About Jacqueline Kuhn:

Jacqueline Kuhn, HRIP is an HR Professional with over 25 years of experience in strategic planning, systems management, project management, services delivery, and general human resources. In her role at HRchitect, she oversees our HCM strategic consulting group which encompasses HRchitect’s HCM systems strategic planning and evaluation and selection practices.