The Case Against: Professional Services

Ok, I get it.  I was a bit easy on professional services as a whole in my last piece.  Many of you who have worked in or around the industry for a while would likely tell me that I was giving way too much credit and that I completely ignored some of the horror stories.  Well, that’s why we’re here right now – to shed some of the negative light on the topic in the interest of fair and equal reporting.

Professional services firms and contractors are not always worth their weight in gold.  To briefly review some of the cons:

  •  They can be hopelessly tied to “scope” which makes it tough to make them think outside the box or be agile when course/direction/plans change
  • They have an extremely wide talent range (especially the larger “big four” firms – quality control is just extremely difficult when it’s all a numbers/margin game and you’re trying to employ/deploy several hundred thousand people)
  • They are very costly, with many typical bill rates falling in the $150/hr range for general/basic services (which, annualized at a roughly 2000 hour working year, is a whopping $300k!)
  • They typically like to push “cookie cutter” templates as a solution to any defined business problem out of ease of create/adaptation (which, most of the time, take more rework to retrofit to your needs than you would have invested simply starting from scratch)
  • They can be generally arrogant since they are (allegedly) in a position of “knowledge” or “subject matter expertise” (in other words, they think they’re smarter than you because you’d be hopelessly lost without them and are generally ignorant on whatever topic you’ve retained them for)
  • They can (and do usually) fabricate false qualifications in order to “win the work” and may often times “oversell” or “underdeliver” based on a misunderstanding in the work that is to be completed from the buyer’s, seller’s, and deliverer’s standpoint (never a good thing when those three opinions are not closely aligned!)

Some people love them, some hate them.  Either way – we all need them to get by from time to time.  So here’s to making the best of it!  Perhaps I will soon divulge some more information on “how to optimize” the work/results you get from your professional services providers.  Especially, you know, since I’ve now been on both sides of the desk and I might be in a decent position to weigh in on that?  Hmmm…

Til Next Time,


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