Should we hire a consultant to assist in the development of the RFP and
selection of the new system?
Originally presented to UCSB Telephone Advisory Committee on 10/20/95.
Revised version presented at meeting of 1/12/96.
Reasons for Hiring a Consultant
To obtain the benefits of specialized expertise for system selection.
Communications Services' staff has had presentations from the manufacturers or
distributors of switching systems from AT&T, Intecom, Ericsson, Fujitsu,
Northern Telecom, and NEC. The presentations, of course, are biased, and do not
represent a highly technical and objective comparative analysis among the
represented systems. It has been eleven years since Communications Services'
staff has had to compare systems of different vendors, and there could be
benefits in working with a consultant who has evaluated and selected dozens of
systems for other customers in the past few years.
To get the benefit of an objective viewpoint. An objective
viewpoint given by a recognized expert from outside the campus can help resolve
the internal and external politics that frequently cloud campus issues.
To obtain manpower which cannot be spared from day-to-day operations.
Hiring additional, temporary expertise is less expensive than adding permanent
staff, particularly once every 7 to 10 years.
To obtain a fresh view of an institution's operations. A fresh view
may make it possible to find solutions to technical or operational problems that
have resisted the best efforts of campus staff.
Cost avoidance. A good consultant should be able to minimize the
possibility of selecting a system which will have a high life cycle cost due to
inherent deficiencies which are not clearly identified by the manufacturer.
Reasons for Not Hiring a Consultant
Consultants cost a lot of money. Based upon current rates, it can
be expected that a consultant for a job of this magnitude will cost UCSB between
fifty thousand dollars ($50,000) and one hundred thousand dollars ($100,000).
Assuming the total installed cost for a new system is five million dollars, the
consultant's fee at one hundred thousand dollars represents two percent (2%) of
the purchase price. This expense would be reflected in the telephone line rates
Hiring a consultant takes a long time. Based upon a recent
experience in Communications Services, retaining a consultant through due
process required about six months. This means that a decision to hire a
consultant needs to be made very soon.
What Services Could a Consultant Provide?
Revised, based on discussions at meeting of 10/20/95. Results of
discussions follow each topic.
- Long range strategic planning: May be useful to have the consultant
provide a presentation on their opinion of the future of telephone systems and
open competition in California. Communications Services' current consultant is
willing to provide this presentation at no charge.
- Compiling an equipment inventory: Can be done by Communications
Services' staff. Consultant not needed for this task.
- Current system evaluation: Consultant not needed for this task.
- Needs assessment: Could have the consultant review the needs
assessment prepared by GTE, but it isn't necessary to re-interview people on
- RFP preparation: It would be helpful to have a consultant review the
draft RFP, but not develop the draft.
- Vendor proposal evaluation: The consultant could be asked to assist in
the review of proposals (e.g., provide comments on the vendors' statements in
their proposals), but their point-by-point evaluation would not have to be
included in the quality point assignments so that selection of the system is
made solely by U.C. employees.
- Vendor contract negotiation: Consultant not needed for this task.
- Installation project management: Consultant not needed for this task.
- System acceptance testing: Consultant not needed for this task.
- Development of internal management systems: Consultant not needed for
- Provide assistance on understanding the current technology and knowing
which vendors offer which equipment and services: Could be done at the same
time as task 1, above, at no charge.
- Network design: Consultant not needed for this task.
- Education and training: Consultant not needed for this task.
- Organizational structure development: Consultant not needed for this
- Selection and implementation of management software systems: Consultant
not needed for this task.