I had looked forward to this post for some time. Little did I know I would have multiple examples of my consultant stereotype dropped right into my lap this week. Now don't get me wrong, I have always given new consultants a fair shake, even more so because I truly believe that once I find a good one, He/She will be of both our benefit, as well as the customers we work with.
I did just that this week as I chatted with a current customer of mine, who had been moved to Google Apps from an exchange server that went down. This recommendation was that from their current consultant, who I have heard rumors of asking for a "spiff" for choosing a given vendor's product. The customer was frustrated that Google Apps had failed due to squelched bandwidth and a lack of preliminary planning. My solution was to triple the bandwidth with a WiMax connection and keep them off of an additional, expensive T1 line that had been recommended by the consultant. Upon informing the consultant of the solution, he said, "That sounds great, if I recommend your solution to our customer, what's in it for me?" I couldn't believe my ears. Wasn't our customer, who was a 501(c)3, paying the consultant to recommend a neutral, unbiased solution? Yet, he was simply choosing the provider who put the most money in his pocket. Does this seem as ridiculous to you as it does to me?!
Earlier this week, before my experience I explained above, I had lost an RFP (request for proposal) due to this very same thing. I was the first runner up due to the fact that I didn't offer to pay the consultant to choose my communication system. When I had gone back to the customer to shed some light on this injustice, they simply said that they trust him and are sure he led them down the right path.
The next customer, described in the first paragraph, was much more open to discovering the truth. I was able to tell them everything, which may or may not lead to them choosing my solution, but at least I know they have all the information in front of them.
In wrap-up, there are a few types of vendors within the IT world; Hardware/Software/Service Providers, Outsourced IT, and Consultants are among some of the main types. Each of these can offer a little bit of every service, yet if you are a true consultant, paid for your time and NEUTRAL expertise, you will not collect payment from any other party except the customer. It is immoral and borderline illegal to come in as a consultant and attempt to sell a product, tangible service, or accept payment for choosing a vendor. Wise up, and land yourself a real job.