What Are Your Thoughts On Hiring Two Consulting Firms At The Same Time?

In the past year I ran into a situation (mid-project in the capacity as an independent consultant) where the client was incorporating materials from my deliverables plus information from one of the major, worldwide strategy consulting firms that was also working in the same area as I was. In this case, I think it was beneficial because it is a high-stakes strategy area which requires mutiple perspectives, innovation, and cross-checking.

Yet it made me recall some other situations where other consulting firms had been used in closely-related or overlapping areas. Highlight memories include:

  • Bringing in a partner consulting firm to round out industry-specific knowledge to complement our functional knowledge expertise
  • Having an internal consulting group monitoring the progress of a larger, external consulting firm
  • Having an adjacent room on the client site to a "competing" consulting firm
  • Getting the consulting firms to work out and remove overlapping work areas by request of the CEO
  • Having the consulting groups to exchange, provide feedback, and critique the other firm's deliverables and engagement progress
  • Setting up the upstream consulting firm (e.g., strategy) to complement that downstream consulting firm (e.g., IT implementation)

Although there are many trends by companies to try reduce the number of suppliers (even in the professional services area), there are benefits of using multiple consultants. Some tradeoffs and considerations:

  • Getting the consultants to cooperate
  • Inefficiency created by overlapping work
  • Benefits by factoring in best perspectives from each firm (similar to the way some of the most innovative firms use a larger network design architects to feed ideas)
  • Keeping each of the consulting teams on their toes

What are your experiences and thoughts about using multiple, management consultants and/or consulting firms?


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