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  CommServ > Reference > Background > Should We Hire a Consultant?

Should We Hire a Consultant?

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 on campus.

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 campus.
  • 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 this task.
  • 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 task.
  • Selection and implementation of management software systems: Consultant not needed for this task.

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