The Challenges of Sourcing Professional Services
Professional services support businesses of all sizes, across a wide range of industries. As such, it can be difficult to find a consistent definition for what is included within the scope. In fact, it can sometimes be easier to list what is excluded from the scope – typically labour hire, engagement of individuals, contingent labour and staff augmentation.
It was within this context that CASME members from the Australasian region came together at a one day RoundTable in central Melbourne to discuss the challenges of sourcing professional services.
The provision of professional services broadly embraces the strategic or business support delivered by external professionals for the management and improvement of an organisation. The scope includes consulting services, either with large or small organisations, or advisory services, with ‘fresh thinking’ outcome-based projects that use a statement of works with measurable deliverables. The duration of assignments is usually a few weeks, but can be up to a maximum of one year to avoid co-employment issues and those working on the projects ‘going native’.
During the RoundTable, delegates shared ideas on how to effectively source professional services including their experiences in working with consulting firms. Engaging with stakeholders for sourcing and contracting professional services can be challenging for Procurement, because agreements are often reached directly between senior management and their preferred suppliers. The group also identified the activities in which Procurement can add value to the category, with the following most commonly cited:
- Manage risk including brand and reputation
- Understanding and classifying spend – breaking down the general ledger
- Developing a network of suppliers
- Tendering, contracting and negotiating processes
- Defining scope and strategy
- Establishing standard templates for a statement of work (SOW)
- Conducting quarterly reviews and collecting user feedback to support relationship management (SRM)
- Establishing and maintaining governance processes
- Validating professional services levels and rates, as well as challenging processes such as the attendance of multiple consultants at internal meetings.
It was recommended that Procurement should support the largest spend areas first, having established a three-way relationship with Legal, HR and the organisation.
The full notes, containing many more key points of interest from the Professional Services RoundTable in Melbourne, are available to CASME members by logging into the website. Organisations who are not CASME members may apply for a place at future RoundTables as part of a Test Drive scheme. Contact us for more information.