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A Checklist for Evaluating Professional Services Firms

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How do you find a really great provider of professional services? Don't be blown away by impressive presentations. Use this simple checklist of questions from Thomas Lah to find the companies that can really help you reach your professional services goals.
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To date, I've written several articles for folks who find themselves responsible for establishing and growing a professional services organization. There are a host of unique management issues that this audience must face as they align professional services to meet overall company objectives. But this article focuses on a very different audience: the consumer of professional services.

As a consumer of professional services, you're probably sifting through proposals and assessing the true capabilities of service firms. The ability to accurately predict how service firms perform on projects can be career-enhancing or career-debilitating. Selecting a competent contractor that helps hit a home run on a project is a wonderful thing. Incorrectly placing your trust in a struggling services organization can be painful and costly. To help you assess service organizations, I've compiled the following three-tiered checklist. We'll focus on the "solution scenario." This is when your company has a specific business problem it's trying to address; for example, your company needs to implement a new CRM system, or Marketing wants to create a new database to mine customer trend information. As you start to engage service organizations that could help solve your problem, consider the following three levels of evaluation:

  • Tier I: Solutions and Capabilities
  • Tier II: Ability to Execute
  • Tier III: Strategic Fit
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